24th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hob. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– In directing my question to the Minister for Supply I bring to his attention the fact that SO years ago the Commonwealth Small Arms Factory was opened at Lithgow, New South Wales, and that on Monday last, 5th November, the great achievements of that factory were recognized by celebrations. Was the Minister, who was present, impressed with what he saw of the achievements of the workmen at the factory? Will he express a view as to the development of this factory? Will he indicate to the House what plans he has for the extension of tha factory’s operations so that it will be able to employ all the unemployed people in the district and to expand its activities for the benefit of the whole community?
– I am glad that the honorable gentleman has given me an opportunity to say a word in connexion with the fiftieth anniversary celebration of the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow. I was very impressed with the success of this celebration and with the goodly number of industrial representatives of all Australian industries in the precision engineering field who joined us at Lithgow. As the honorable gentleman will well know, the Prime Minister paid there what I think was a very well deserved tribute to the people of Lithgow, particularly to the men and women of the Small Arms Factory who have done so much to give us a record of industrial production which is not repeated in too many other plants in Australia. Credit for this goes not only to the men and women employed in the factory but also to the management of the factory. Management and employees have worked extraordinarily well as a team and the result is an example of a successful marriage of management and employees. I am pleased to tell the honorable gentleman, if he does not already know, that during the 3-hour open night held last night 10,000 people inspected the factory. The honorable gentleman will correct me if I am wrong, but I point out that as the population of Lithgow is, I think, only 14,000, that means that almost everybody in Lithgow went through the Small Arms Factory last night. They have every right to be proud of what they saw.
– Can the AttorneyGeneral indicate when he will be able to make a public statement setting out the proposals that he has in mind concerning restrictive practices legislation?
– I know the honorable gentleman’s continued interest in this subject, and I am sure he will be pleased to hear me say that I will be making a statement before the House rises at the end of this sessional period which will indicate the scheme that has been developed to a point now where it can be discussed in public and those especially interested in it can see exactly what is in mind with respect to the legislation.
– I direct to the Prime Minister a question which concerns a matter that I raised in the Parliament on 25th October. Has the Government of India requested assistance of any kind from Australia in its struggle against the Communist Chinese invaders of Indian territory? If no request has been made, does the Government consider that India must ask before we make an offer of assistance? Will the Prime Minister assure the House that if a request is made food and medical equipment will be sent to India without delay? Finally, is it correct that a delay has occurred in the making of an offer by Australia because members of the Australian Country Party fear that loss of trade with Communist China would result from the making of an offer of assistance to India?
– The suggestion contained in the last bit of that question, Mr. Speaker, is completely false, but no doubt that does not surprise you. As to the first two portions of the question, my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs, made a statement about the matter in answer to a question yesterday, and nothing of which I am aware has happened since that would add to or otherwise alter that answer. I am sure that as soon as there is some further information to be given my colleague will be very happy to give it.
– But what is the Government’s attitude?
– Were you not here yesterday?
– As emphasis has been given to the need for skilled tradesmen in Australia, particularly for the electrical and metal trades, and as the printing and allied trades have suffered from a shortage of skilled tradesmen for many years, can the Minister for Immigration advise the House what special steps are being taken to obtain skilled tradesmen from overseas for the very important printing industry? Is the Minister aware of this urgent requirement by the printing industry, which is the third largest in Australia? Can he give any hope that skilled operators for it will be obtained from overseas in the immediate future?
– As the honorable member may recall, on 22nd October I initiated a special campaign, which we described as the “ Sponsor a Skilled Migrant “ scheme, to induce skilled workers, not only in Great Britain but also in all other countries from which in the past we have attracted settlers, to swell the rather depleted ranks of skilled workers in Australia. It is true that in launching this scheme I mentioned a number of categories of skilled workers in which we were deficient. I am well aware of the shortage of workers in the printing trade, to which the honorable member for Balaclava has referred, and I can assure the honorable member that in taking these special measures that I have mentioned my department is by no means overlooking the industry for which the honorable gentleman has spoken this afternoon.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Army. Is it a fact that the standard combat ration for the Australian military forces provides for one ounce of margarine per man per day, but makes no provision for butter? Have the troops engaged in the exercises at Singleton been given this ration, resulting in the consumption of 400 lb. of margarine a day for a fortnight?
– Some time ago I expressed the policy of the Army in relation to this matter. I might say, shortly, that the policy of the Army is to use as much butter as possible. I think the expression I used on the last occasion was that nothing is too good for the Army. It is true, however, that margarine is used to some extent in certain packs that are made up, because of its keeping qualities and other factors. However, the honorable member can be assured that butter is used to the fullest possible extent.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Trade. It is prompted by the question asked yesterday by the honorable member for Richmond about the importation of pig meats from New Zealand. Is the Minister aware that the “ Eastern Argosy “ berthed at Melbourne with 107 tons of hams for the Australian market? Has the Minister seen or heard of a report that further heavy consignments are expected? Can the right honorable gentleman say what action the Government or the industry concerned can take to prevent a possible fall in prices in Australia?
– Since a question on this subject was asked by the honorable member for Richmond yesterday, the Minister for Primary Industry and I have been making inquiries about the pig meat that has been arriving in Australia. Quite modest quantities, relative to the total Australian market, have arrived in Sydney and Melbourne. I have no accurate knowledge of what further quantities may be on the water. The honorable member can be assured that there exists, as is well known, machinery to make sure that floods of imports of any commodities will not be allowed to cause serious damage to Australian industry. I can assure the honorable member that there is provision to avoid any such damage.
– I ask the Minister for Trade a question. Did the Tariff Board commence an inquiry into the precisionground ball bearing industry two years ago? Was this investigation completed, and has the board’s report been in the Minister’s hands for at least six months? Has any action been taken on the board’s recommendations, and will the Minister say why the report has not yet been published?
– I do not carry in my mind the detail of the matter. I know that the subject of ball bearings was referred to the Tariff Board some considerable time ago. It was referred as an outcome of an arrangement under which, when the Government sold its ball bearing factory to private interests, it was agreed that in due course there would be a reference to the Tariff Board. I will ascertain the stage of the reference as quickly as I can and advise the honorable member.
– I ask you, Mr. Speaker: Are you prepared to take a stand against stiletto heels? By explanation I say that in King’s Hall the indentations in the parquetry floor, recently relaid at much cost, are already visible in a thousand places. This is an indication of the widespread destruction being wrought by lovely women stooping to folly at the dictate of fashion dictators. Are you aware, Sir, that on the King’s Hall floor the impact of one tiny feminine foot through a stiletto heel is heavier than that of a four-ton elephant? I ask you, Sir, since there is no possibility that the fair sex will voluntarily return to sanity in this matter, will you impose a ban on wearing stiletto heels in that half of King’s Hall which is under House of Representatives control, and in the case of those women who insist on wearing stiletto heels, consign them to another place? If you will do this, I feel sure that you will earn the applause of mankind while I am certain that nothing you can do will impair your popularity with the fair sex.
– We are well aware of the effect of stiletto heels on the floor of King’s’ Hall. We are also conscious of the fact that any man is courageous who will interfere in any way with women’s ideas of what they should wear.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Trade. Has the Minister studied the last paragraph of the Tariff Board’s annual report in which the board states that for staffing and “other important reasons” it feels that the establishment of the Tariff Board should be separate from the Department of Trade? Does he know what are the “other important reasons” referred to? Is the Minister considering the board’s suggestion that the establishments of the two bodies be separated? Is he aware that if this were done it would give the public greater confidence that the board was not being subjected to pressure by the Department of Trade?
– I have considered the reference in the annual report of the Tariff Board to which the honorable member has directed attention. I have also had two interviews with the chairman of the Tariff Board in which he has explained his thinking and his colleagues’ thinking on this matter. As a result I undertook not only to consider the matter but also to convey the suggestions to the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister in turn proposed that Cabinet should consider the suggestion that the Tariff Board should be accorded complete autonomy in respect of its own staff. This is not a novel suggestion coming to any government from a government instrumentality. It is a fairly common experience that special instrumentalities desire to be completely in control of their own staffs, but in few instances has any government been prepared to agree to such a suggestion. There are practical reasons why it is desirable that access to the staff of an instrumentality shall be open to civil servants from the whole of the Public Service and that opportunities shall exist for civil servants in such special instrumentalities to return to the Public Service. This does not occur if special autonomy is accorded. For these and other reasons which I think are well known to those on both sides of the House who are experienced in Government, Cabinet did not approve of this suggestion. In conclusion, I believe that it ill becomes the honorable member to suggest that there is a want of confidence in the Tariff Board on the part of the public, because I think this is the opinion of the honorable member for Wakefield more than that of any other person.
– I direct a question to the Treasurer. Is it a fact that the Government has about £205,000,000 of National Welfare Fund money invested in treasury-bills earning 1 per cent, per annum? Could not this money be invested in war service homes, where it would earn at least 3i per cent.? Is the Treasurer aware that hundreds of ex-servicemen are awaiting finance and that many hundreds of them who are unable to pay the exorbitant interest rates being charged by financiers would be willing to pay up to bank overdraft rates for loans to purchase homes through the War Service Homes Division? Will he examine the possibility of making extra finance available to exservicemen purchasing existing dwellings and in that way remove them from the clutches of money-hungry financiers who are charging upwards of a 12 per cent, flat rate of interest for temporary loans?
- Mr. Speaker, I think the honorable member will appreciate that his question does not permit of a simple and direct reply, as it involves a statement on a statistical matter. I shall examine the text of his question and give him a written reply to it.
– I direct my question to the Leader of the House. Can he inform the House whether the Opposition has indicated that once again it intends to deprive private members of the opportunity to discuss matters of vital interest to the Parliament and the country by proposing for consideration a matter of urgent public importance?
– It has been indicated to me that the Opposition proposes to initiate such a debate to-morrow. As honorable members are aware, this is not the first time in the life of this Parliament that the time set aside for debating private members’ business has been invaded in this fashion by the Opposition. I have on more than one occasion pointed out to the spokesman for the Opposition who discusses matters relating to the business of the House with me, that the course of action proposed would have the effect of reducing the time which the Government sets aside, and the Standing Orders permit, for the consideration of items of private members’ business appearing on the notice-paper. Honorable members opposite, from the Leader of the Opposition and his deputy downwards, have frequently attacked the Government for what they regard as a curtailment of the rights of private members. I say that no government, in the history of federation, has provided more opportunity for the discussion of private members’ business, on the days set aside for that purpose, than has this Government. I regret that, with the other opportunities available to the Opposition and the long period we spent on the Budget debate and the Estimates, honorable members opposite should again take up the time on private members’ day for a matter the urgency of which the House will be well able to determine when it is submitted to-morrow.
– Mr. Speaker, I ask for leave to make a short statement.
– Is leave granted?
– No, make it after questions.
– The right honorable gentleman has abused the forms of the House to attack me, and I should have the right of reply now. Do I take it that leave is refused?
– Leave is refused.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the House. It is supplementary to the question asked him a few moments ago by the honorable member for Macarthur. I ask the Leader of the House whether he will co-operate with the Opposition to-morrow in enabling a vote to be taken as quickly as possible on both the matters which head to-day’s printed list of general business for to-morrow. Both are on the same subject, one from a Government private member and one from a member of the Opposition.
- Mr. Speaker, the matters referred to are under the heading of private members’ business. The House will decide the course of action which should be followed when private members’ business is being discussed.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Trade. In view of the need for a maximum national effort in relation to exports, I ask the Minister whether increasing numbers of exporters are taking advantage of the payroll tax deductions and income tax concessions introduced by the Government some time ago as part of a nation-wide drive for increased exports.
– I am very glad to assure the honorable member and others interested that there is an increasing recognition of the need for exports and of the opportunities that exist to benefit from income tax remissions by searching for or developing new markets overseas. There is also a growing recognition of the opportunity to escape pay-roll tax, in part or in whole, by increasing exports beyond the base figure. This knowledge, I arn glad to say, is becoming widespread not merely because of the efforts of Government spokesmen, but also because those engaged in commerce and industry itself are conducting a nation-wide compaign through seminars and by other means. The Government is very pleased with the progress that is being made.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Trade. Has any financial assistance been granted to the Boomerang line of Norwegian ships now trading between Australia, South America and other ports? Has any financial assistance been granted to a shipping company, known as the Greek-Australian line, now trading between Australia and the Lebanon, as described on page 474 of “ Overseas Trading” dated 19th October, 1962? Has any financial assistance been granted by this Government to any other overseas shipping line?
– I am glad to inform the honorable member that, in accordance with advice given to the Parliament earlier, arrangements do exist which may, and probably will, lead to the payment of subsidies to two lines trading between Australia and South America. The so-called Boomerang line is not a Norwegian line; it is in fact a Swedish line. The arrangement covers two years and provides that in consideration of this line establishing a new service providing six services a year to the Caribbean area of South America the Government will pay a subsidy. This may be as large as £100,000 a year for each of two years, but it will be abated to the extent of any profits made by the shipping line. In the case of the line serving the southern part of South America - the Heale line, I think it is called - there is a similar provision, not identical in terms but one that could lead to the payment of up to £175,000. This covers two years and visualizes six or eight voyages each year. Again, there is provision for a maximum payment, to be abated by the profits of the line. The Greek-Australian line, which trades into the Mediterranean, has never enjoyed any subsidy, nor is a subsidy intended.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Immigration. Just before the recess last week I drew the attention of the Minister to the desirability of increasing the number of English classes for Spanish immigrants at the Holden reception centre at Northam, Western Australia. I now ask the Minister whether it is a fact that, with highly commendable promptness, action was taken to provide the requested additional classes. Will the Minister inform us of the result of this action?
– It is perfectly true that before the last break in the sittings the honorable member for Moore raised this question in the House. I am glad to tell the honorable gentleman that, as a result of negotiations between my department and the Western Australian Department of Education, it has been possible to institute day classes in English at the Holden centre at Northam. The Western Australian Department of Education has supplied two instructors for this purpose. Classes of two and one-half hours duration are held every day. It has been estimated that this will enable all Spanish immigrants above normal school age in the camp to receive three lessons a week totalling seven and one-half hours. The honorable gentleman might think that perhaps a little more might be done, but my advice is that seven and one-half hours represents the optimum time which is considered desirable for instruction in English each week. We have an assurance from the Western Australian Department of Education that if it is found during the next few weeks that the service provided by that authority in conjunction with my own department is not sufficient, more instructors will be provided.
– I ask the Minister for Trade: Has he or the Government taken any action since the President of the United States of America was given authority to negotiate tariff reductions and trade agreements respecting goods entering the United States to obtain free entry of lead, zinc and wool to that country?
– It would be wrong to say that any new action has been taken in this respect by the Australian Government since the introduction of the legislation in the United States of America. The Australian Government has made continuous representations to the government of the United States. Those representations have been made by myself and, I am sure, by the Prime Minister, by senior officials, by our ambassador and by his staff over a period of years. The desire of the Australian Government for improved access to the United States markets for a number of commodities is very well understood by the United States Administration.
– Have we been able to do something about it?
– The United States Administration was not equipped to negotiate as fully as it wished until the recent legislation was passed.
– The Minister for Labour and National Service will remember that a few weeks ago I asked a question about the successful retraining scheme conducted in Canada at the height of unemployment in that country. I now ask the Minister whether, as a result of negotiations between his department and outside private interests, some thought has been given to the adoption of a somewhat similar scheme in Australia. Has particular attention been given to the question of apprenticeships? Does the Minister think that it might be useful for the Parliament to have a paper prepared on the subject for its guidance?
– I am sorry that I have no further information to give the honorable gentleman as to whether we intend to adopt the Canadian scheme or a similar scheme in Australia. I shall consult with the officers of my department and let the honorable gentleman know the result. We have had a second series of conferences relating to apprenticeships dealing, amongst other things, with group apprenticeships - that is to say with an industry, rather than with individual employers within an industry, taking on apprentices. They also dealt with what are called “ block releases “ which entail releases for period’s of one, two, or three weeks. This means that the apprentices would go to a technical college, not on an afternoon or for a full day each week, but for a week, two weeks or three weeks several times during the year. I shall obtain details of the changes that have been suggested and I shall let the honorable gentleman know.
If I understood the third question correctly, the honorable member asked whether I considered that I should present a paper to this House for debate or discussion. The proposal well merits consideration, but I think that the time of the House is fully occupied and I doubt whether we would have time to debate the matter in this sessional period. Nevertheless, the subject ts of great importance to us as a nation. I shall discuss the matter with the Leader of the House and, if he feels that he can do something to provide an opportunity for debate, I shall let the honorable gentleman know.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Trade. In view of the change in the membership of the Tariff Board as a result of Sir Leslie Melville’s resignation and in view of the grave alarm about the possible loss of continuity of employment felt by employees in what are known, in the textile industry, as the rayon-weaving mills in New South Wales, Victoria and
Tasmania, and because a recent decision by the Tariff Board presents a grave threat to the Australian rayon-weaving industry, and because the effects of that decision must shortly become evident, will the Minister Intimate when the report on textiles of manmade fibres is to be tabled in this House for adoption or otherwise - and, I hope, otherwise?
– I shall ascertain when the Tariff Board’s report on textiles of manmade fibres will be available to honorable members, and I shall let the honorable gentleman know.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Primary Industry in his capacity as chairman of the Australian Agricultural Council. I ask: Is it true that there is an understanding between all members of the council that if a State wishes to increase its quota for the production of margarine, that State will first inform the council and seek its approval before taking any action? I ask this question because of reports that New South Wales is to increase by 4,000 tons its quota for margarine production. I also ask: If New South Wales refuses to seek the approval of the Australian Agricultural Council, is it possible that such irresponsible action by the Government of New South Wales could lead to the breaking up of the council?
– In 1957, the Australian Agricultural Council agreed that no State would increase its quota for margarine production without first informing the council. That agreement has been honoured ever since. The honorable member has mentioned a rumour that New South Wales intends to increase its quota by 4,000 tons. I do not think that there is any truth in the rumour, because in recent weeks I have received from the New South Wales Minister for Agriculture an intimation that he proposes to submit to the New South Wales Parliament legislation consistent with the agreement reached at the last meeting of the Agricultural Council, which was held at Perth in July last, to remedy the weaknesses in the arrangements concerning margarine quotas. I presume that that agreement will be honoured by the New South Wales Government.
– I wish to direct a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. I ask: Why was it that the Australian National Line discontinued its custom of calling for tenders for ship repair jobs in the port of Melbourne, thus giving a monopoly to one firm? Was the former practice discontinued because of any departmental direction and, if so, why?
– I am not aware of the circumstances to which the honorable member has referred, but I will make inquiries and let him have a reply to his question later.
– Some time ago I suggested to the Minister for Labour and National Service that something in the nature of the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme should be instituted to train the large number of school leavers who will be seeking employment later this year. Has consideration been given yet to the suggestion?
– For the past few months my department and, to a lesser extent, I myself, have been considering the problems relating to apprenticeship. I can assure the honorable gentleman that this has been a massive exercise. Consequently, neither I nor my department has had an opportunity to consider instituting a reconstruction training scheme for the large number of young people seeking employment. However, I am confident - I should like this to be repeated as often as it can be repeated - that the frequently made statements that in the early months of next year we will have a big problem of unemployment, due particularly to school leavers, will prove to be extravagant if not completely wrong. On all the information that is available to me I can state that the Government’s policies are working out and that the forecasts which we made as early as February this year have proved to be correct. While I know that the problem of school leavers must be faced, it is not an insuperable hurdle. We believe that the young people who will be coming on to the labour market and will be registering with us for employment will be absorbed more easily next year than they were this year, and let me add that the Commonwealth Employment Service did a remarkably good job this year.
– I preface my question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport by referring to a reply which the Minister for Defence gave to a question on Wednesday, 24th October last, relating to shipbuilding. He said -
T have the highest regard for the work done by the artisans in Australian shipyards. . . . However, experience has shown that Australian shipyards work slowly.
With the exception of perhaps one shipyard, are not all Australian shipyards at present working far below capacity? When an emergency arose and when orders were forthcoming were not Australian shipyards capable of production per man equal to, if not better than, production in American shipyards?
– On previous occasions I have referred to the Government’s desire to maintain the Australian shipbuilding industry. In a period when shipbuilding throughout the world has been- depressed the maintenance of the Australian shipbuilding industry has been a credit to the Government. At present the majority of our shipyards have work in hand. The honorable gentleman’s question deals with the defence aspect. This involves many technicalities as well as a consideration of when the vessels are required to be in service. I am sure that aspect was considered by the Minister for Defence. As to the ability of Australian workmen, on certain types of ships such as the bulk carriers which we have built this is of a high standard. The vessels are of high quality and the workmanship has been good. But, as I have said, the technicalities which must be considered in the construction of vessels for defence are an entirely different matter. This aspect was dealt with effectively by my colleague, the Minister for Defence.
– I direct the attention of the Minister for Repatriation to the fact that under the Social Services Act certain payments are made by the Government to assist age and invalid pensioners to meet funeral expenses. Will the Minister consider introducing a similar benefit for service pensioners?
– It is a fact that a Commonwealth contribution of £10 is made towards the funeral expenses of deceased age and invalid pensioners and that no such contribution is made towards the funeral expenses of deceased service pensioners. I am pleased that the honorable member has directed attention to what is an obvious anomaly. I might add that this matter was raised recently by the national head-quarters of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia. I believe that it should be adjusted immediately, and I undertake to do so. I assure the honorable member that the benefit will be made available to service pensioners as soon as the necessary regulations can be approved.
– Yesterday, the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) directed a question to me in these terms -
Have any discussions taken place with United States authorities regarding reported plans to have a United States Navy ship carrying thermo-nuclear missiles stationed near Albany in Western Australia to service nuclear-armed submarines? If such discussions have taken place will the Prime Minister make a statement on the matter?
I said that I would find out about this matter and I have done so. The reply to the question is that no such discussions have taken place. Recent press reports concerning the establishment of a United States holding base for nuclear weapons, which I noticed after the honorable member had put his question, are pure speculation and have no basis in fact.
– A few minutes ago I told the honorable member for St. George that I would let him know when the Tariff Board report on man-made fibres was to be tabled or whether it already had been tabled. I have since ascertained that this report has been tabled and will be available to the honorable member. For the information of all honorable members let me point out that while Tariff Board reports are my responsibility up to the point at which they are either accepted or rejected by Cabinet, from that point on the Minister for Customs and Excise, and the Minister for Supply, who represents the Minister for Customs and Excise in this House, are in charge of the reports.
– I move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1960, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report: - Extension of Stokes Hill Wharf and provision of Additional Cargo Shed, Darwin, Northern Territory.
The proposal provides for an extension of 100 feet by 160 feet of the existing Stokes Hill Wharf, widening to 160 feet of the existing wharf and providing an additional cargo shed on the wharf measuring 230 feet by 80 feet. The estimated cost of the work is £430,000. I table preliminary plans of the proposed work.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move - [Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 52).]
[Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 53.)]
The resolutions which I have just introduced relate to proposed amendments to the Customs Tariff. Details of these amendments are now being distributed to honorable members. Customs Tariff Proposals No. 52 cover, firstly, tariff changes arising from the Government’s consideration of reports made by the Tariff Board on -
Snap fasteners and eyelets; and
Menthol and thymol.
In accordance with the Tariff Board’s recommendation, protective duties on snap fasteners and eyelets are being imposed at a rate of 20 per cent. ad valorem for imports from countries entitled to the British preferential tariff with other rates determined in accordance with international commitments. This represents an increase in protection for snap fasteners, where the board found that the industry needs increased protection against imports and a reduction in protection for eyelets.
In its report on menthol and thymol the board recommended increased protection. It found that duties of50 per cent, less 3s. 3d. per lb. under the British preferential tariff and of50 per cent, on imports from other countries were necessary to maintain the local industry’s position as principal supplier of menthol to the Australian market and to allow production to continue at the level necessary to maintain cost economies vital to its export trade. Local production and demand for thymol is very limited, however, and the board considered that the high level of duty which would be needed to protect this small section of the industry could not be justified. It therefore recommended the nonprotective duties now being introduced.
Secondly, the proposals contain three amendments mainly of an administrative nature. The first is to allow for the importation free of duty of certain lowvalue goods for display or use at international exhibitions, fairs, meetings or similar events in conformity with a customs convention which ensures the same concessions for Australian goods sent to trade fairs and the like in overseas countries which have also acceded to the convention. The second amendment renders fertilizer-grade urea free of duty from all sources and follows international consultations consequent upon the Government’s acceptance of the Tariff Board’s recommendations on nitrogenous fertilizers. The third amendment excludes mercerized sewing cotton from Item 464 (b) (1) (a) and restores the position as at 27th July, 1962, as was intended at that time.
Customs Tariff Proposals No. 53 and Excise Tariff Proposals No. 1 contain administrative amendments designed to accord international organizations and their officials the tariff concessions provided for in the Convention on the Privileges and
Immunities of the Specialized Agencies as approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations.
I commend the proposals to honorable members.
Reports on Items.
Mr. FAIRHALL (Paterson - Minister for
Supply). - I lay on the table of the House reports by the Tariff Board on the following subjects: -
Snap fasteners and eyelets.
Menthol and thymol.
Ordered to be printed.
Suspension of Standing Orders.
Motion (by Mr. McMahon) - by leaveagreed to -
That during the consideration in Committee of the Whole of the Stevedoring Industry Bill 1962, so much of Standing Order No. 223 be suspended as would prevent proposed new clauses being considered in their numerical order with the clauses as printed in the bill.
In committee: Consideration resumed from 23rd October (vide page 1844).
Clauses 1 to 3 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Proposed new clause 3a.
Amendment (by Mr. McMahon) proposed -
That the following new clause be inserted in the bill:- “ 3a. After section fifteen of the Principal Act the following section is inserted: - 15a. The Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act 1930-1959 applies to the Chairman and other members of the Authority, and to officers and employees of the Authority, as if they were employees within the meaning of that Act and -
references in that Act to the Commonwealth were references to the Authority; and
the Chairman and other members of the Authority were employed by the Authority.’.”.
– This clause, which gives effect to a requirement that was neglected in the past, is not opposed by the Opposition.
Amendment agreed to.
Proposed new clause 3b.
Section proposed to be amended.
– (1) The functions of the Authority are - (d)…..
.- I move-
That the following new clause be inserted in the bill:- “ 3b. Section seventeen of the Principal Act is amended by omitting from sub-paragraph (ii) of paragraph (d) of sub-section (1.) the words ‘ to require waterside workers registered at a port to offer and accept’ and inserting in their stead the words ‘to facilitate waterside workers registered at a port offering for and accepting ‘.”.
The need for this clause is very real. The 1961 legislation contains a similar provision in section 17 (1.) (d) (ii) which amended section 17 of the 1954 act in such a way as to provide that sub-clause (d) (ii) has a mandatory provision which, read in conjunction with section 36 (1.) (e) of the 1956 act, is of such a nature that it should not be allowed to stand any longer. This is a matter which the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia and the Australian Council of Trade Unions have looked at. They have urged that this amendment be agreed to by this Parliament. I would refer the committee, first, to section 17, subsection (1.), paragraph (d), sub-paragraph (i) of which says - to facilitate waterside workers registered at one port becoming registered at another port for limited periods;
Sub-paragraph (ii) then goes on - to require waterside workers registered at a port to offer for and accept employment . . .
The second provision involves a compulsion. I invite honorable members to compare that provision with section 36 (1.) of the 1956 act, which says -
Where, after such inquiry as it thinks fit, the Authority is satisfied that a registered waterside worker -
has failed -
to offer for or accept employment as a waterside worker; the Authority may cancel or suspend the registration of the waterside worker.
Under section 17 (1.) (d) (ii) the authority can require waterside workers registered at a port to offer for and accept employment at another port, and if any waterside worker does not do so when required, then section 36 (1.) (e) becomes operative. It has been put to me very strongly by the Waterside Workers Federation and the Australian Council of Trade Unions that the same language should be used in subparagraph (ii) of paragraph (d) of section 17 (1.) as is used in sub-paragraph (i). In other words, the authority should have power to facilitate waterside workers transferring from one port to another. The waterside workers should have some election in the matter.
What is being suggested here is the kind of arrangement that operates in any outside business or government department. When we pass acts of Parliament dealing with conditions of employment of waterside workers, or any other employees, for that matter, we should consolidate the original act and amendments. I am sure that if the various pieces of legislation were read together in a consolidated act the Minister would agree that the authority should have power only to facilitate the transfer of waterside workers, having in mind the power granted by section 36 to deal with waterside workers who fail to offer for or accept employment. The mandatory provision in sub-paragraph (ii) of paragraph (d) of section 17 (1.) should not be allowed to stand. All we are asking for is that the same language be used in the two subparagraphs.
I commend this amendment not only as being worthy of acceptance, but also as embodying a principle that should have been recognized in the bill that was brought down in 1961. Unfortunately, at that time there was so much talk about the penal provisions that I am afraid provisions such as this were overlooked to some extent, and were not read in conjunction with the provisions of the 1956 legislation. I commend the amendment to the committee.
.- This question of transfers between ports was quite exhaustively argued in 1961, and what is proposed in this amendment is nothing more than what was requested by the Opposition at that time. The honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) has referred to paragraph (d) of section 17 (1.), and has told us that subparagraph (ii) allows the Stevedoring Industry Authority to require waterside workers to do certain things, while sub-paragraph (i) provides for it to facilitate waterside workers registered at one port becoming registered at another port. What the honorable member has overlooked is that subparagraph (i) envisages facilitating waterside workers registered at, say, Melbourne, becoming registered for limited periods at, for instance, ports in Tasmania at the time of shipment of the apple harvest. The intention is to facilitate the movement of those workers who are willing to go to those other ports, and who, in fact, are accustomed to doing so regularly each year. Sub-paragraph (ii), however, which the honorable member’s amendment would change, speaks of requiring waterside workers registered at a port to offer for and accept employment on a daily basis at another port. That is the significant part, the daily basis.
The authority could use this power, of course, only in transfers between ports close together, such as Melbourne and Geelong. When there is a shortage of labour at one of those ports and an oversupply of labour at the other, the authority has the power to require men to move from one port to the other on a daily basis. When it does require them to transfer on a daily basis certain consequences follow. There are allowances for time occupied in transferring and allowances in terms of pay.
The honorable member for Blaxland, completely overlooking the words “ on a daily basis “, and completely overlooking the differing intentions of the two provisions, puts forward an amendment designed to effect the change of phraseology that he has suggested. I point out to the committee, however, that the purposes of the two sub-paragraphs are completely dissimilar. There is no strength whatever in the argument that the same language should be used in both sub-paragraphs. I, therefore, will oppose the proposed new clause.
– As the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) has said, the Government considered an amendment similar to this when the amending bill was brought down last year. I then told the Parliament why we were not prepared to accept the amendment. I shall give those reasons again in rather general terms.
For many years it has been the practice to transfer men from one port to another, when it has been in the interests of the industry, on a daily basis, as the honorable member has said. The reason why we wanted this power was that we wished to keep the numbers of waterside workers to the lowest possible levels, so that we could ensure continuity of work, and also so that men could receive wages instead of attendance money. Therefore, in terms of principle, we feel that the amendment is not desirable and that the present law is satisfactory.
As to the operation of the present provision, I think you can take it that it has worked successfully in transfers between adjacent ports, such as between Burnie and Devonport or between Geelong and Melbourne. We have not had one valid complaint, at least since I have been the Minister, and the records do not disclose any justifiable complaint, by members of the Waterside Workers Federation. It is true that in one case mentioned in the Parliament last year, involving a transfer, I think, between Devonport and Burnie, there was a suggestion that the transfer provisions would be used for strike-breaking purposes. I give an assurance that this was not the purpose of the legislation. It was never used for that purpose. In the particular case I have referred to, it turned out that the contention made was not based on fact.
For these reasons and those given by the honorable member for Bruce, the Government finds itself unable to accept the amendment.
– All I want to say in reply to the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) is that he very studiously avoided indicating his support for a form of compulsion, and that is what this is. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) did the same. A clause of this type would not be tolerated in any railway award or any award for outside industry. This condition is imposed by a parliament that has no jurisdiction and cannot give the consideration normally given on an arbitration level to a matter of this kind. It ill becomes a parliament to adopt a policy of compulsion in respect of a group of workers. If that is the policy of this Government, let me say quite clearly that it is not the policy of the Opposition.
Question put -
That the new clause proposed to be inserted (Mr. E. James Harrison’s amendment) be so inserted.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clauses 4 to 8 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Section thirty-six of the Principal Act is amended -
– I move -
Omit clause 9, insert the following clause:”9. Section thirty-six of the Principal Act is amended -
By omitting paragraph (f) from subsection (1.) and inserting in its stead the following paragraph: -
has been convicted of an offence against this Act;’;
by omitting from sub-section (1.) the wordsor, where not inappropriate, suspend his entitlement to attendance money;
by omitting sub-sections (3a.), (3b.) and (3c.) and inserting in their stead the following sub-section: - (3a.) Where the registration of a person as a waterside worker has been suspended under sub-section (1.) of this section by a person exercising a power delegated to him by the Authority under section fourteen of this Act, the Authority may, unless the waterside worker has filed a notice of appeal against the suspension under the next succeeding section or given notice under section thirty-seven b of this Act that he objects to the suspension, vary or set aside the suspension, but where the Authority varies the suspension, it shall not increase the period, or the number of working days or days, for which the suspension would, but for the variation, have effect.’;
by omitting from sub-section (5.) the words “ or whether the entitlement of a waterside worker to attendance money should be suspended “; and
by adding at the end thereof the following sub-section: - (6.) Where the Authority, under sub-section (3a.) of this section, varies or sets aside the suspension of the registration of a waterside worker, or, under sub-section (4.) of this section, revokes the suspension of the registration of a waterside worker, the Authority shall pay to the waterside worker such amount as the Authority determines as being equal to the whole of the loss of wages, of attendance money and of payments in respect of public holidays suffered by the waterside worker.’.”.
The amendment proposes to delete from the principal act the penal provisions inserted by the 1961 legislation, which we fought so vigorously. Honorable members will be able to follow our proposal if they look at clause 16 of the 1961 bill. The amendment proposes to delete the provision that the registration of a waterside worker would not continue if he were convicted of an offence against any law of the Commonwealth or of a State or Territory of the Commonwealth.
That is one aspect. We said last year and we say now that that provision is completely unreal in legislation granting long service leave to any section of workers and to waterside workers in particular.
The amendment also proposes to delete) the reference to the suspension of a waterside worker’s entitlement to attendance money. The Australian Council of Trade Unions agrees that this provision should be removed. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) wants the A.C.T.U. to play its part in maintaining peace on the waterfront and in urging the Waterside Workers Federation to drop its present approach to these matters. But before the council is saddled with the responsibility for peace on the waterfront and peace in industry its view must be considered. I join with the Australian Council of Trade Unions in saying bluntly, to the Parliament and to the people, that the insertion of penal clauses in long-service leave legislation for any section of Australian workers - particularly in an industry such as that of the waterfront - is a fatal step if the Government wants peace in industry.
As I said during the second reading debate, section 36 of the act is the provision that is now being used by the extremists, about whom the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) will no doubt speak soon, to cause disturbances on the waterfront against the direction of the A.C.T.U. So long as Parliament refuses to accept the viewpoint of the A.C.T.U. that these penal provisions should be removed from the legislation they will provide the stick which will belt not only this Government but also the nation. Parliament should examine the picture since the 6th June last year, when the provisions which we are now saying should be amended first operated. Since that time there has been only one major dispute on the waterfront and when that dispute went before the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority the waterside workers were not completely in the wrong. All other major disputes on the waterfront since this legislation came into operation have been due to the penal provisions. The moment a government includes penal provisions in long service leave legislation it invites the workers to take direct action.
The operation of the penal provisions in this measure has surely shown the Government the reaction of the workers to legislation of this kind. When the act was last amended the Minister, during his secondreading speech, said the A.C.T.U. had asked for the deletion of the penal provisions. The Government knows that the A.C.T.U. is prepared to play its part in ensuring peace on the waterfront, but not while the legislation contains penal provisions such as these. I will deal with section 52a later.
Would anybody believe that the national parliament of any country - not just some tuppenny-halfpenny show - would legislate to take from a worker a rate of pay assessed by an authority set up under legislation passed by that parliament? But that is what this legislation does. There are two facets of it, the long service leave provisions and the power given to the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority to determine that a waterside worker shall be suspended for four days. The worker may work for four days and then lose sixteen days’ attendance money, which means taking away from him the minimum prescribed by the authority itself. The Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority takes away the sixteen days’ attendance money and then, under this legislation four days that the worker has actually worked are deducted from his long service leave. Legislation of this character would not be allowed to operate in any other country in the world. So long as the A.C.T.U. has the capacity to fight this kind of legislation the Government will find it on the side of the workers, irrespective of the industry in which they are engaged. I have dovetailed these two questions together on behalf of the Opposition so a9 to deal with the obnoxious provisions of section 36.
It is interesting to go back to the 1956 legislation and see the power given to the Stevedoring Industry Authority then, first of all with respect to its own functions and then with regard to the penal provisions. We are agreeable to leaving in two provisions inserted in 1961, paragraph (aa) of sub-section (1.) of section 35 of the act and the amended paragraph (d) of sub-section (1.) of section 36. We will leave them in as something which may have been essential to the provisions of the 1956 act, but while we have the power as an Opposition and opportunity presents itself, we will fight the retention of the penal provisions in section 36. When we are the Government we will remove those provisions at the first opportunity. If the Minister were a dog trainer and gave his employee a big stick with which to train a dog, he could not blame that employee for beating the dog with a stick. That is what this legislation does, although the Minister is not dealing with dogs but with human beings.
I feel sure that the honorable member for Petrie (Mr. O’Brien) will inform the committee of the amount collected by the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority under the provisions which we say should be deleted. I do not suggest that the Waterside Workers Federation should be treated differently from any other union under the normal legislation dealing with trade unions, although we do not agree with the Government’s policy in that regard. Individual trade unionists in the Waterside Workers Federation should not be placed in an inferior position by legislation passed by this Parliament. They should not be placed in a position inferior to that of members of the ironworkers federation, the Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Enginemen or any other union, yet that is the situation which prevails under this legislation. The Minister said the Australian Council of Trade Unions had asked for the removal of the penal provisions, but the Government had refused the request. If members of the Government want peace in industry they will have to support the amendment moved by the Opposition. If the amendment is accepted, both the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Opposition will accept their share of responsibility to obtain peace on the waterfront, for which the Minister has appealed. No matter how strong either the Opposition or the Australian Council of Trade Unions is, we cannot get peace on the waterfront while legislation of this type relating to long service leave is enacted. These penal provisions take money out of the family income of the waterside worker. I do not believe the Government understands what it has done in this legislation. If a waterside worker is suspended under the provisions of the 1956 act and goes home he has something to answer for. He is responsible to his family for having done something which brought about a stoppage of his pay.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Chairman, it is a remarkable thing about which the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) has spoken. He said that if there was no power for the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority to make an order for the suspension of attendance money and it was thrown back onto its original power under section 36, merely to suspend registration, the worker, when suspended, would go home and have something to explain. He would have to explain why he had done something which caused him to be suspended.
Let us carry that on and see what sort of a conversation would take place when the waterside worker got home. His wife would ask “ What are you doing at home? “ and he would reply: “ That is all right, my dear. I have been suspended along with everybody else.” His wife would ask “ What for? “ and he would reply “ I have been suspended because the authority said we should not have walked off that ship as we did and we have been suspended for three days “. “ Oh “ the wife would say, “ Does that mean you will lose money? “ “ No “ the waterside worker would reply, “ We will lose it for three days but then with all the overtime we will get at the week-end do you know, my dear, that we will finish up having more income this week because we were suspended than we would have had if we had not been suspended. We feel it is a good idea to be suspended frequently so that we can obtain more income. The reason why we obtain more income is that ships are there in the port waiting to be loaded or unloaded and they have to be loaded or unloaded and we will work on them at penalty rates, which are most attractive.” That is how the story told by the honorable member for Blaxland goes, if we carry it on. Instead of suspending the waterside workers and bringing the whole waterfront to a standstill for a longer period than it was at a standstill because of the strike, the authority cancels the payment of attendance money, and work goes on. The ships, instead of being held up for a week - three days of the strike and four days of the suspension of the waterside workers - are held up only for the three days of the strike. The benefit to the people of Australia - let us consider the whole 11,000,000 people of Australia and not merely the 22,000 waterside workers - is immeasurable.
The honorable member says that this is most improper and that we should not have this disciplinary measure in long service leave legislation. I have never made any secret of my belief that this is an industry which was in need of discipline. No industry could be dreamed of that was more in need of discipline, and no industry can hold the community to ransom as this industry has been doing. The honorable member for Blaxland claims that the existence of a provision such as this in legislation must cause unrest, merely because it is there. He drew an analogy between this provision and putting a whip into the hands of a dog trainer. It was a ridiculous analogy and one that should not be used to mislead members of this committee.
Let us really look at the existing provision. It was included in the legislation of 1961 and came into operation in June of that year. For the next nine months there was a state of peace on the waterfront which was so incredible that the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority in its annual report said that it was just miraculous. I forget the exact words, but for the first nine months of that year we were heading for an all-time record in the smallness of the loss of manhours from industrial disputes. We had a state of peace on the waterfront that was unparalleled in our history. In fact, the number of man-hours lost was less than in New Zealand, and I am sure that all honorable members know that the record in New Zealand has been very good. But then what happened? At that point of time certain factors intervened and, in the next three months of the financial year, the man-hours lost suddenly shot up. If the position can be visualized in graph form, the graph would show the loss of man-hours following a slow gradient and then, in the last three months, suddenly shooting up. It shot up simply because there was a definite preorganized campaign to embarrass the Government, a campaign which paid no regard whatever to the interests and welfare of the people of Australia.
The proposals that the honorable member for Blaxland now produces by way of amendment were very fully argued in the last Parliament when the legislation was passed in 1961. The arguments for the legislation were then compelling; the arguments to-day are even more compelling than they were in 1961, when one takes into account the nine months of peace that resulted. To pass the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Blaxland would, in my opinion, be the greatest folly that this committee could commit.
.- Mr. Chairman, I support wholeheartedly the amendment moved by the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) and, in complete sincerity, I ask the Minister and the committee to consider carefully the implications and effects of section 36 of the principal act as amended in 1961 by the insertion of sub-sections (3a.), (3b.) and (3c). Time and time again in this chamber the Minister has contended that the intention in withholding the attendance money from waterside workers is to prevent complete port stoppages. There is adequate provision for this in section 52a, although we object to that section also. The additions to section 36 say, in effect, to the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority that if a man in any of the 52 ports in Australia assaults a foreman, steals on the waterfront, is drunk on the waterfront, or as a member of a group creates a disturbance of a serious nature and, as a result of inquiry the authority deems that the man’s services are required next day, the authority may suspend his registration and substitute in lieu a suspension of attendance money entitlement. In Newcastle on 11th June, 1962, three men were involved in serious offences - so serious that collectively they were suspended by the Stevedoring Industry Authority for 142 days. But the authority decided that it needed the services of those men on the waterfront on the next day, so it substituted in lieu of suspension a withholding of their entitlement to attendance money. This resulted in the withholding of 426 days attendance money from those three men. In total, those three men paid to the authority for their offences, £601 14s. 6d. Similar action has been taken in other instances. When a dispute has occurred but there has been a shortage of labour in the port, the authority, after deciding to suspend the registration of the men involved, has then decided that those men are needed and has substituted in lieu of that penalty a suspension of attendance money.
In 1 961 the suspensions of entitlement to attendance money under section 36 (3c.) resulted in 746 men who had committed breaches at times when there was a shortage of labour being fined a total of £6,115 5s. because the authority had decided to suspend their entitlement rather than their registration. From January to July of 1962, 3,935 men were involved in disputes during times of shortage of labour. In those instances the employer said, in effect, to the authority, “ But we want them to work on the waterfront. Don’t you dare suspend their registration as we want them to work to-morrow “. The result was that the men’s entitlement to attendance money was suspended. In effect that meant a fine of £36,398 14s. 3d. on waterside workers during that six-monthly period.
It has been clearly established that waterside workers are losing wages and that subsections of section 36, (3a.), (3b.) and (3c) are completely vicious. In the long run they will not make for good or harmonious relations on the waterfront. In a small port, say, a gang commits a breach on a ship and has an argument with a supervisor; the watersiders are reported and next day they are suspended. But then, because their services are required, there is a substitution of penalty and they are sent back to the same job again. These suspensions cause involved and protracted disputes. In some instances when waterside workers have had their registration suspended for three days, they have been taken off the roster and other men have performed the work, but often when there are shortages of labour the authority will substitute a withholding of attendance money and send the men back to the same employer. That cannot lead to good employer-employee relations.
The Minister has repeatedly said that attendance money is withheld only when there are port stoppages, but there have been cases in which a man who has been drunk on the job and has been suspended for fourteen days, has had this suspension lifted by the authority because of the shortage of labour, and back he has toddled to work next day with a loss of attendance money instead of suspension. What sort of legislation is this? These are the things to which the waterside workers are objecting. The penalties in section 36 were introduced by the Government with a recognition by the A.C.T.U. that there must be some form of control over men who get drunk, pilfer or commit other breaches on the waterfront. But the vicious fining of the men is completely unnecessary. Despite the mummy and daddy pantomime we have had from the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden), let me remind him that, with the disputes, the average hours worked last year was 26 a week. How can the waterside workers say that they are going to work all the week-end? There are no penalty rates for them. The average working week on the waterfront is of 26 hours. In nine months waterside workers have lost £660,000 out of their wages by suspensions. I ask that the amendment moved by the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) to omit subsections 3(a), 3(b), 3(c) and paragraph (f) sub-section (1.) of section 36 of the act receive the most serious consideration of this committee. If these penal provisions continue the most protracted disputes will occur on the Australian waterfront. They will not solve the problem on the waterfront.
The honorable member for Bruce has said that this is an industry that needs discipline. After reading about the fifteen years of control of the industry by the authority it seems to me that the discipline has been onesided. The honorable member for Bruce mentioned that the employers, out of the goodness of their hearts, upon the introduction of this legislation, did not prosecute the first twelve cases in which a walk-off occurred. They prosecuted in the last case and it resulted in a fine of £2,000 being imposed on the Waterside Workers Federation. Why did not the employers prosecute previously? Why is it that the men repeatedly go to arbitration yet only in recent months have the employers made applications to the arbitration authority? Why have they not done so previously? It is because their shirt-tails are very dirty indeed and they cannot prove their cases. I have mentioned repeatedly in this chamber the hold-ups occasioned by employers requiring men to work on unsafe vessels. Every month, the list increases but cases are placed on the list only if labour is actually engaged. Hundreds of ships that come into Australian ports are declared unsafe but they are not reported to the authority because they do not come within its jurisdiction until labour is ordered.
The reports of the Stevedoring Industry Authority show that the employers are not completely blameless in these things. But where is the iron discipline to control them? Where is the legislation which provides that a company shall be prevented from making a profit for three months if it brings an unsafe ship into port? Dare the Government introduce legislation which would enable the authority to say to the Adelaide Steamship Company Limited, for instance, “ You have been a bad boy; we suspend your right to earn profits for the next three months”? Section 36 of the act contains the most obnoxious provision ever introduced into a law in this chamber. There have been occasions on which waterside workers have been suspended and refused the right to work for three months. They must live and so must their families. If they are suspended they go on to unemployment relief or to another job until they can go back to the waterfront.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- When the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) and the honorable member for Petrie (Mr. O’Brien) declaim that penal clauses should not remain in the act surely they do not look at the situation realistically. What sort of a situation would exist if, in a casual industry such as the waterside industry, there was no way, through penal clauses, to control the industry? There is no such thing as loyalty between the employee and the employer in this industry because these men are registered as casual employees with the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority. The Waterside Workers Federation wants its members to be registered as casual employees. It does not want a loyalty to be established between employer and employee. What possible chance would there be of controlling an industry so vital to Australia without some penal provisions? I wonder what would be the position if - God forbid! - the Labour Party were to become the Government. Would honorable members opposite eliminate the penal clauses in this act and allow the Waterside Workers Federation to run slipshod over the community? Of course they would not. They unquestionably would be harsher than this Government has been. The Government of to-day and the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority do everything possible to ensure that the waterside worker - the individual, the fellow who is registered with the authority - gets the opportunity to work and is kept in work. The authority does not go out of its way to see that men do not get employment. Quite the oppOsite
In order to be factual, honorable members must look at this situation from the point of view of the men themselves. Do they want to be involved in these disputes which bring, in their turn, penalties? The men themselves do not want to be involved in disputes. The honorable member for Bruce and, I think, the honorable member for Petrie asked, “What is the position when the man goes home and tells his wife he has been suspended or is involved in a dispute”? Is there not some feeling in the house that money is to be lost in this situation, which is most unfortunate? Of course that is the domestic scene.
I remember that some little time ago 300 men refused to have a meal which was provided for them in the Glebe Island area by the Department of Labour and National Service. It was an exceedingly good meal. The menu included a choice of four meats, two sweets, and two soups. There was any amount of bread and butter and tea and milk. Those 300 men were directed not to accept that meal. What was the situation? They all went out of the gate at a quarter to five, refusing to work overtime because they had been directed not to do so. If anybody is foolish enough to think that those 300 men decided of their own accord that they did not want to take that wonderful meal he must be out of his mind.
Honorable gentlemen opposite are quite unrealistic in their attitude towards the waterfront. To me, it does not seem real to suggest that these penal clauses are causing such great concern to the men. There is adequate protection to ensure that the men are not required to work too hard or too laboriously and that too onerous a burden is not placed upon them. There is adequate protection to ensure that they do not work in dangerous circumstances. Ample opportunities for their protection are available to them. So there is no reason whatsoever for them to be involved in disputes. I have said before in this place and I say again that there is no need for men to adopt strike action. I know that the honorable member for Blaxland and the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) do not agree with me on this. I repeat that there is no reason for strike action except in the one circumstance which the honorable member for Petrie mentioned where individual safety is concerned. I do not believe in men working in circumstances in which their well-being is subject to danger. Obviously, they should not do so. Nobody else - particularly the honorable member for Bruce - would consider that they should do so, but that position is provided for.
It is also provided in the award and, no doubt, in the act, that if men feel aggrieved by a condition of employment the matter shall be placed before an impartial board of reference. All that the person who constitutes the board of reference wants to do is to see that the men’s rights are conceded if he can see justification for a grievance that has been claimed.
Let any one who thinks that this does not adequately protect the employee look a little further at the matter. The union, through its various executive officers - very capable officers, too, if I may say so - can take a particular dispute past the board of reference to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and have it dealt with there. So, everywhere along the line, the men’s conditions of employment are adequately protected. Only when the men themselves refuse to accept that protection - when, as a result of inducement and encouragement by union officials, they go on strike - do they find themselves in a position in which they have, in effect, forfeited attendance money and incurred a penalty.
The argument that the penal provisions of the act are so injurious to the men and so provocative seems to me to be mere humbug indulged in by honorable gentlemen opposite who wish to push a particular barrow. The attitude adopted by the honorable member for Blaxland appears to be that he wants to have conceded a bonus for wrong-doing. If the attitude of honorable members opposite is that employees should receive a bonus for wrong-doing, heaven help our national economy, which will be at the mercy of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia and the hierarchy of its leadership. Without penal provisions in the act to ensure that the men do the right thing, obviously, only chaos can result.
Mr. Chairman, I strongly support the opposition to the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Blaxland.
.- Mr. Chairman, I wish to speak on behalf of all the waterside workers of Tasmania and to say at the outset that the provisions of this clause represent the mailed fist now being introduced into the misnamed long service leave legislation originally brought down by this Government. If ever a group of workers was subjected to a vicious measure the waterside workers have been subjected to such a measure by the operation of the so-called long service leave legislation. Tasmania set the ball rolling in introducing long service leave for waterside workers, and I am proud of that fact. In our State, we had an excellent piece of legislation on the statute-book - the first such enactment in the Commonwealth - which was designed to give the waterside workers justice and their normal human rights as Australian workers. But this Commonwealth Government, spear-headed by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon), thought that it would be very smart. It saw in the introduction of its long service leave measure, not a means of affording long service leave to the waterside workers of Australia but an opportunity to conceal in the middle of a good piece of legislation mailed-fist penal provisions typical of a vicious tory government. And that is exactly what this Government did.
– Has the honorable member read the amendments to the principal act to be made by this bill?
– I have read them. When, the Commonwealth legislation was passed, it overruled the Tasmanian act, which passed out of existence. I emphasize that the Tasmanian measure imposed no penalties. This Government’s actions prove that its first consideration was discipline and its second consideration the extending of long service leave to waterside workers. Even the amendments to the principal act to be made by this bill cannot conceal that fact from normal, unbiased persons. In the long service leave measure, this Government saw only a good chance to impose vicious penalties on the waterside workers, and the provisions of this clause represent probably the worst kind of penalty provisions such as are imposed on no other workers in Australia.
As the honorable member for Petrie (Mr. O’Brien) said, after waterside workers have been punished economically one day, they are employed the following day when there is a shortage of labour. Have you, Mr. Chairman, ever heard of anything so utterly ridiculous? One would almost think that the Minister believed that he had worked out a very easy way to raise revenue for the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, for all that the Government’s legislation is doing is enabling the authority to avoid putting money into the pockets of the waterside workers. The men are penalized one day and put back at work the next day. I have never heard of the imposition of penalties in this manner. It is just like telling a man who has been convicted in court of an offence, “ You are to be sentenced to two months’ imprisonment, but your boss wants you back at work to-morrow “.
– The honorable member is discussing the wrong clause.
– I am discussing clause 9. Even if I were directing my remarks to the wrong clause, Mr. Chairman, I would be saved the need to say these things later. There has never been brought before this Parliament a piece of legislation worse than this. It is one-sided, vicious and discriminating. The Government proposes to use it as a weapon against the men. Right up to the time that this bill was introduced, the Stevedoring Industry Authority had the right to punish waterside workers for offences, but the Government considered that that was not enough and decided to introduce this bill and make the penalties even worse.
The amendment proposed by my colleague, the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison), has the full support of honorable members on this side of the chamber. I was a member of the industrial committee of Opposition members which threshed out this matter and determined the amendments to be proposed. A great deal of work was done in trying to formulate just amendments to this vicious measure. I speak, as I have said, on behalf of all the waterside workers in Tasmania. The Tasmanian branch of the Waterside Workers Federation finds that the number of its members is rapidly dwindling with the growth of mechanization and the use of roll-on, roll-off ships. I voice against this bill the strongest protest of which I am capable. As I have said, the clause now before the committee represents one of the most vicious parts of the whole measure.
.- Mr. Chairman, like other honorable members on this side of the chamber, I am completely opposed to the Opposition’s amendment. The arguments advanced by honorable members opposite are utterly ridiculous. They skate round the whole purpose and wisdom of the measure that the Government has introduced. Opposition members are making out that the bill represents a terrible weapon in the eyes of the waterside workers. I am absolutely confident, however, that it will be welcomed by 80 per cent, of the watersiders who want to do a decent day’s work. They have good pay and good conditions and they want the opportunity to work. If we adopted the suggestions made by honorable members opposite and imposed no penalties in any circumstances, we might as well throw away all our legislation dealing with the waterfront, because complete chaos would result. The measure introduced by the Government last year has brought peace to the waterfront. Only in recent months have we had this disaffection which has been fomented by the Communist union bosses who have organized disputes to bring pressure to bear on the Government and protest at its legislation. This is a fact. The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), who preceded me-
– Do you say that he was talking rubbish?
– I know that he was talking rubbish. He said that the waterside workers in Tasmania had been deprived of work. It is this industrial lawlessness and chaos which is depriving them of work. The men themselves, by their attitude, are reducing their opportunities for work. But the more industrial lawlessness there is the more penalties will have to be imposed and these, unfortunately, deprive the workers of their livelihood. We have seen what has happened at the Queensland sugar ports where bulk loading has been introduced. Industrial lawlessness became so rife that we had to introduce the bulk loading system and as a consequence thousands of men have lost their jobs. The honorable gentleman mentioned Tasmania, where the roll-on, roll-off system has been introduced and where cargo is placed already packaged into the holds of vessels, thus saving handling. This has been the result of industrial lawlessness. This lawlessness costs money. The primary producers, who are represented by the party to which I belong, have had to pay dearly and they will continue to do so until the position is remedied. At least every primary producer will welcome this bill. As I have said before, I believe that 80 per cent, of watersiders are good Australians and that they will welcome this bill because it will bring peace to the waterfront.
– I support the amendment which has been proposed by the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison). I begin my remarks by replying to the question which the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Cockle) raised at the beginning of his speech. He asked would a Labour government repeal the penal clauses of the act. Of course we would! We have made it quite clear that we intend to do so.
When the original bill was introduced we said that we would repeal it, and we make it clear again on this occasion that as soon as we become a government one of the first things which we shall consider necessary to bring some sanity to the waterfront will be to repeal the iniquitous provisions of this legislation which allows an employer, or an authority on behalf of employers, to deprive a waterside worker of long service leave simply because he has been engaged in some strikes.
– You are dealing with the wrong section.
– I am not dealing with the wrong section. You are the one who is dealing with the wrong section and I shall tell you why. I have never seen such a hotch-potch of a bill. It is no wonder you are dealing with the wrong section. We are discussing a bill which relates to three separate acts. First of all, we have the principal act which was passed in 1956. Then we have the act of 1957, and the act of 1961, each a separate document. The Minister has brought down an amending bill consisting of 22 pages and has then introduced a series of amendments to his amending bill, consisting of nine more pages, the last five pages consisting of entirely new clauses. The Opposition has twelve proposed amendments so we have had to present a separate document with the proposed new clauses at the back. Finally we have another document containing Opposition amendments.
I have never seen such a poorly presented piece of legislation. This should be a lesson to us. In future when complicated legislation such as this is before us requiring us to look at seven separate documents to know what we are talking about, ta explanatory memorandum such as that produced by the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) on another occasion should be printed to show the sections of the acts proposed to be amended, with the amendments themselves in heavy type so that we shall be able to follow clearly what is being discussed. I say with great respect that it is the Minister who does not know what we are discussing.
– I did not say you did not know what you were talking about. 1 said you were on the wrong clause of the bill and that you were misunderstanding
– What more does any one need to hear than the Minister saying that I am on the wrong clause of the bill?
The Government clearly is attempting to interfere with the right to strike. It is no good for the Government to pretend otherwise because the honorable member for Warringah stated clearly that in his opinion unless health and safety were at stake a person had no right to strike. In no country of the civilized world outside the iron curtain has the right to strike been denied the workers. In England as long ago as 1824 the right to strike was established as a legal right. The right to strike is the only thing which distinguishes the free man from the slave. If you do not have the right to withhold your own labour you cannot say that you are living in a free society. For that reason when we come to power we shall amend these vicious provisions of the act with which we are now dealing. Our proposed amendments seek to do this now.
It is all very well for honorable members opposite to say that we have had peace on the waterfront since this repressive legislation has been in operation, but you can prevent almost anything by repressive legislation. If the Government were to introduce a law which provided that a worker who was a member of a trade union would be liable to imprisonment for twelve months, trade union membership would drop considerably and, if that were the Government’s objective, the Government would be able to claim: “We have achieved our objective^ We set out to reduce trade union membership by introducing legislation which provided that a person joining a trade union would be imprisoned for twelve months. Look at the wonderful results we have obtained. Membership of trade unions has dropped from 2,000,000 to 500,000 and we shall deal with those 500,000 later because the gaols are all full now but as they empty we shall imprison the workers who are now free so as to ensure that they leave the trade union movement “.
If we allow an authority to impose these savage penalties on workers - they are savage because the penalties already imposed upon the workers by the authority amount in the aggregate to not less than £660,000 to say nothing of the direct penalties which have been imposed upon their organization by the industrial court which slugged the union with a penalty of £2,000 on the last occasion that it was dealt with-
– It is a revenue tax.
– That is virtually what it amounts to. The stevedoring authority is financing its activities simply by imposing these savage penalties upon the waterside workers. Depriving the waterside workers of their entitlement is used by the authority as a means of financing its operations. No wonder the waterside workers have no faith in the stevedoring authority when this kind of thing goes on. No wonder the waterside workers have decided that the stevedoring authority is loaded in favour of the bosses while that situation exists. That opinion is widely held by the waterside workers of Australia, not only by the Communists. It is no good the Government saying that the Communists are the only ones who believe that the law is loaded against them. The Government should get that idea out of its mind. The waterside workers, as a body, are completely dissatisfied with the way in which the law is being used against them at present.
On occasions such as this I like to quote the words of Mr. Commissioner Portus relating to the right to strike. He said -
When a strike has ended, the enforcement of penalties is an unnecessary irritant; when a strike has failed, the failure and loss of wages are sufficient penalty; and when a strike has succeeded, the public finds it difficult to appreciate why persons should be punished for obtaining a remedy for what they consider was a legitimate grievance.
Let us consider the wool loading dispute. I am of opinion that Mr. Justice Ashburner’s decision would not have been as favorable to the waterside workers as it was but for the disturbance over wool loading in Sydney because the unfortunate fact is that only the militant trade unions in Australia - the ones which are prepared to fight - seem to get anything from the Arbitration Commission. The tame cat unions, which can be relied upon to take everything which is handed out to them, are notorious for the fact that their working conditions are the worst of all. ft is regrettable that a notable characteristic of the arbitration system is that those on the bench adopt the policy of giving to the workers only what they are strong enough to take. That policy must be changed. I support enthusiastically the proposition which has been advanced by my colleague.
The stevedoring industry authority has the right, under the bill, to suspend, or suspend the registration of, anybody simply because he commits a breach of the provisions of the act. Under that provision there is nothing to stop the authority from suspending or cancelling the registration of every waterside worker in Australia for taking part in a 24-hour stoppage. This kind of thing cannot be tolerated. How on earth can any civilized society that claims to be free clothe an authority with the power to take £660,000 out of the pockets of the workers in wages?
.- The provision against which the Labour Party is now protesting can be classified as vicious class legislation. What we have to keep in mind is the reason why attendance money was introduced in the first instance. Everybody knows the conditions that prevailed on the Australian waterfront over a great number of years. Men were attending for work on days when no work was available for them, and were receiving no payment for doing so. It was generally recognized that men who regularly made themselves available for work day after day and had no work provided for them were entitled to receive attendance money. It is their money which has been granted to them because they attended on days when no work was available.
When we refer to the deduction of attendance money for days when workers were actually available for work as being fines, the Minister objects. But these are indeed fines, because the waterside workers are having taken from them money which morally, and in every other respect, they are entitled to receive. We can understand some of the alarm of members of the Government parties over the possibility of the removal of these penalties from the legislation. On every occasion on which a matter such as this is before the Parliament the honorable member for Bruce (Mr.
Snedden) rises as an advocate for the shipowners and the stevedoring companies and attempts to earn his fee as an advocate for those interests. I point out that the honorable gentleman has received a considerable amount of work in the courts of this country by appearing for the ship-owners and the stevedoring companies. I remind him that on two occasions this year he appeared in the courts representing those particular interests. When the honorable member is attending to his court duties and is thereby absent from this Parliament he does not receive his attendance money in respect of parliamentary attendance for the particular day or days - but there is no Minister and no authority that can impose on him the loss of a further three or four days’ parliamentary attendance money because he has not attended to his duties in the Parliament on one particular day.
One would imagine, to listen to speakers on the Government side, that the villains of the piece in this instance were the waterside workers - that they were responsible for the waterfront industry being a turbulent industry, that there were never any disputes which were justified. Although we have heard statements about disputes over the non-observance of safety provisions, and some speakers have admitted that in such cases the workers would be entitled to stop work, the simple fact is that the waterside workers are not considered by the court as entitled to stop even where safety is involved, because Mr. Justice Ashburner has stated - a rare case, perhaps a wrong decision on a safety issue, such a stoppage might be excusable.
So, according to the judge, where men stop on a safety issue and are afterwards proved to have been right in their claims, it would be a rare case where they would be considered as justified in ceasing work.
Let me give an illustration of the viciousness of this particular provision. Strangely enough, there is no provision to empower the authority to discipline the stevedoring companies. The reports of the authority show that it has repeatedly directed the attention of the Government to the fact that the empowering of the authority to take disciplinary action against the workers only and not against the stevedoring companies has caused a great deal of unrest on the waterfront. Yet the Government fails to insert in the legislation any provision to give power to the authority in this respect.
In my opinion, in the great majority of the disputes that lead to waterfront stoppages the men are fully justified in taking the action that they take. I have no doubt about that. Had not the waterside workers been prepared to act militantly in asserting their rights to certain of the things which have now been conceded to them they would never have obtained these improvements in their working conditions. Let me give a recent illustration of the provocation to which watersiders have been subjected. I do not know whether I have all the details in respect of this particular dispute, but the details that I have illustrate some of the ways in which the waterside workers union is unjustly penalized. The vessel concerned in this dispute was the “ Trentbank “, and I understand that it was making its maiden voyage. It was manned by an Indian crew. There was a great deal of unrest on the vessel because of the ill treatment of the Indian crew. When the vessel arrived in the port of Sydney the crew sought to confer with the waterside workers of Sydney in order to obtain their co-operation in having some of the matters at issue adjusted. One matter that the crew complained of was that, evidently when they were expressing their dissatisfaction aboard the ship, one of the white officers knocked the Indian bos’n down. These matters were being explained to the waterside workers at a meeting, and while listening to them they over-stayed their break. The meeting was still in progress a few minutes after 1 o’clock - when they were due to resume work - hearing the complaints of the crew. As a result, six gangs of men were suspended. They lost half a day’s work, and I understand that besides being suspended for a further three days they also lost three days’ attendance money. That is a severe penalty to impose on these men. After all, we often talk about the Colombo Plan and what we are doing to assist people in other countries to improve their conditions and to see that they receive just treatment. Yet when workers from another country who are visiting this country ask for help in a dispute about conditions on a ship operating in Australian waters savage penalties are imposed on Australian workers who want to help them.
Here is the remarkable thing about this incident: After these savage penalties had been imposed on the men directly concerned the waterside workers in Sydney decided to stop work in protest. Immediately those workers, because the stoppage was declared to be port stoppage, were penalized. Four thousand five hundred men were penalized three days’ attendance money and then, not satisfied with that, the shipowners took action in the Commonwealth Industrial Court as a result of which the union was fined an additional £500. How long are these savage penalties going to be permitted?
Now here is the interesting sequel to the story: So justified were the men in taking the action they took that the captain of the “ trentbank “ eventually gave the waterside workers’ union in Sydney a written undertaking that there would be no further assaults on members of the Indian crew. He also agreed that an examination would be made of certain of the matters to which attention had been directed. That proves conclusively that the master of the vessel recognized that the support which the waterside workers had given to the Indian crew was justified.
Let me turn briefly to some other matters. I say that this bill is class legislation. My colleagues have referred to the penalties imposed by the Commonwealth Industrial Court. I think that it was my honorable colleague from Queensland, the honorable member for Petrie (Mr. O’Brien) who said that the penalties imposed since April, 1960, on the Waterside Workers Federation amounted to not less than £7,900 in addition to the £700, 000-odd lost in attendance money. No reasonable person in this community could regard these as other than savage class penalties imposed upon a trade union.
Let me look for a moment at the attitude of the court. There is no need for me to remind honorable members that the Commonwealth Industrial Court is to-day presided over by a judge who was formerly a Liberal senator in this Parliament. Yet the trade unions have to go to that court and hope for justice. Let me tell honorable members of another instance in which, in my opinion, the union was wrongly treated, and without any justification. In 1960 the waterside workers were involved- ,
– Order! I remind tha honorable member that the court, and relationships with the court, have nothing to do with the legislation that is before the committee at this stage.
– I would also remind you, Mr. Chairman, that you did not direct attention to that fact when other speakers were taking part in this discussion. You did not do so in my case until you were prompted by the Minister.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mention has been made of boards of reference, and I rise again to direct further attention to the penal provisions of section 36 (3.), paragraphs (a), (b) and (c). On the waterfront of Australia, boards of reference are called from time to time. They comprise three members, one being appointed by the Government and one each by the employers and employees. This procedure is necessary because of the conditions under which waterside workers operate. In the great majority of cases there is not sufficient time for the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to act. It is usually found that before the commission can do anything about a particular matter, the ship in question has left the port, taking with it the conditions complained of. This being so, the various matters have to be examined on the spot.
In our 52 ports the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority has local representatives or officers in charge. They are given the powers contained in section 36 of the Act. They have the right to suspend and the right to tear up a registration. At the same time, they have the board of reference powers delegated by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court. So, we find that a representative of the Stevedoring Industry Authority may be called out, as the chairman of the board of reference, to make a decision about working conditions on a particular job. The employees may consider the decision unacceptable, or even unjust, but they are still obliged to continue working in conditions that they may consider obnoxious and cause undue strain. But if the men walk off the job they appear the next morning before the very gentleman with whose decisions they disagreed, but who is now clothed in the powers of the Stevedoring Industry Authority. The local representative is now faced with a dilemma. He says to himself, “ If I do not suspend these men, then I admit that my decision of yesterday, when I was exercising the powers of the commission, was wrong “.
I contend that section 36 (3a.), (3b.) and (3c.) of the act places too much mandatory penal power in the hands of public servants, taking that power away from the court. I have said repeatedly in this chamber - and my statements have not been successfully refuted by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Cockle) or the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) - that section 26 of the waterside workers award gives an advantage to the employers by providing that there shall be no bans, limitations or restrictions. Section 88 of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act provides that the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission shall deal with matters on the waterfront. Section 109 provides that if employers are aware that there is going to be a dispute they may seek an order of restraint from the court, and orders have been issued repeatedly in recent times. A breach of those orders results in a fine of £500 on the union, and four such fines have recently been imposed on the federation, making a total penalty of £2,000, because of the nation-wide stoppage that was held. The federation, of course, has had to pay these fines from the proceeds of the levies imposed upon its members. In addition, however, the waterside workers who stopped not only lost the wages involved but also were fined up to four days’ attendance money. The total amount lost by them was nearly £100,000.
Honorable members on the Government side frequently ask, “ Why don’t the waterside workers go to arbitration? “ Well, I ask why the employers have not gone to arbitration. Surely this Parliament will not add in one of its acts mandatory clauses to those that have been in operation for the last fifteen years. If the Government is against strike action, surely the question should be decided by the judges of this land. We should not pass acts of parliament giv ing mandatory penal powers to 52 public servants employed by the Stevedoring Industry Authority. There is no denying the fact that the legislation provides that the local representative shall suspend employees, and that he shall deprive them of four days’ attendance money for each day’s suspension. Four days’ attendance money amounts to £5 13s. The Government has been very careful to provide a heavy penalty. It is interesting to note that if a waterside worker loses work through no fault of his own, but through the fault of the authority, the authority shall provide a minimum six-hour payment, amounting to £3 9s. 6d. In that case the authority considers £3 9s. 6d. sufficient to cover the loss of a day’s wages. But when it suspends a man for a day, it says that the penalty shall be £5 13s.
Honorable members on the Government side would have us believe that all the troubles on the waterfront are caused by the employees. In this respect let me refer to the last annual report of the Stevedoring Industry Authority. We find that in the year ended 30th June, 1962, 736 men walked off the job in concerted action, and although the authority had available to it the penal provisions of section 36 (3a.), (3b.) and (3c.) of the act, no action was taken. Why did the authority take no action in all those cases? Could it be that in all of those 736 cases the employers were wrong? They must have been wrong, because no action was taken under any of the provisions of section 36 (3a.), (3b.) and (3c). We find also that 212 men left their jobs without permission. No action was taken in any of those cases. Can I take it, then, that in nearly 1,000 cases employers have wrongfully dismissed men?
– What page of the report are you looking at?
– If the honorable member cannot look up the report for himself I will help him out. It is page 124.
I support the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison). If the Minister and the Government want to assume power, which the court now has not got, to prohibit strikes, so that they can deal with these nation-wide 24-hour stoppages, that is one thing. But to introduce section 52a and then march right through and invoke additions to section 36 is another matter entirely. We do not object to the proposition that there should be discipline on the waterfront, but we do remind the Government that section 36 (3a.), (3b.), and (3c.) will cause a great deal of trouble in small ports, where a waterside worker can commit any kind of misdemeanour on a particular day, come before the local representative of the authority the following morning and be suspended, and still be expected to go on working. The honorable member for Bruce spoke of the psychological reaction when a man told his wife he had been suspended. They would have a little argument and the wife’s control over the man would stop him from striking for his rights in the future. What a lot of rubbish! What about the psychological reaction of a man who is drunk on the job one day and is called back the next day because his services are needed? What about the psychological reaction of a man who, having been dismissed one day for broaching cargo, is called back the next day because his services are needed and the authority, after suspending him for three months, substitutes in lieu suspension of attendance money, as it did with the gentlemen in Newcastle?
What sort of industrial relations are we to have on the waterfront? I predict that within three years there will be no stevedoring authority or regulatory authority on the waterfront, because the Government has amended the provisions of the legislation time and time again, causing much confusion for many people with top-heavy bureaucratic control.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- A number of the arguments advanced in this debate are the same as the arguments that were debated in 1961. Despite the fact that they have been debated in the past and that a decision has been given on them, I think some of them are worth examining.
Let me start with the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), who used a number of words to describe this legislation. One word that rolled off his tongue and sounded nice was “ discriminatory “. This legislation may have been thought to be discriminatory after it was passed in 1961, in that it did not operate in respect of people who were in B class ports, to some of the irregulars or to some of the people of the Sydney Mechanical Branch or the Melbourne coal-workers and so on. It was the whole essence of the situation that brought about discussions between the Miinster for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) and his department, and the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Waterside Workers Federation, in order to draw up legislation to dispose of these matters, which were thought to be anomalies and therefore might be discriminatory in relation to some people. That is the very reason why the bill is now before us. To allege that it is discriminatory is to overlook completely the fact that the whole purpose of the bill is to cure those anomalies.
– I meant between the waterside workers and the shipowners.
– I see, discriminatory as between the waterside workers and the shipowners. Can honorable members opposite give me a specific instance in which the shipowners or the stevedoring company have refused to let members of the union work? They cannot give a single instance.
The honorable member for Petrie (Mr. O’Brien) is drawn back into relying on allegations of faulty gear that are mentioned in the report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority. During the second-reading stage, I pointed out that the total number of man-hours lost from that cause is under 20,000, whereas for the same year the total number of manhours lost through industrial action was 3,000,000. If one is put against the other, it becomes quite clear where the reality of the problem lies. The honorable member for Petrie says that if a ship has faulty gear, the shipowner should not be allowed to earn profit for three months, and that would be equivalent to taking attendance money away from a member of the union. To say that is to completely misunderstand the issue. It does not help the committee to have issues of that sort raised. They are red herrings and cannot be described in any other way.
Another matter was raised by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron). I notice that he is not in the chamber now.
– He will be back.
– Quite, but my time is limited and therefore I cannot wait to mention this matter until he comes back. He said the bill is in a mess, that there have been many amendments. He said this is the worst legislation he has seen. I am sure the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison), who is sitting at the table, would not agree. Although the honorable member for Blaxland and I have disagreements about matters, 1 am sure he will accept the compliment I offer on this occasion, that he is a man of great experience in the general field of industrial relations and that he is also a responsible member of the Parliament. I am certain that the honorable member for Blaxland, who has been closely associated with negotiations between the A.C.T.U. and the W.W.F. and the department, would not share the criticism of the honorable member for Hindmarsh. The draftsmen and the members of the department have done a colossal job in trying to push aside the rushes, if you like to call them that, behind which can be seen the reality of the problem that needs to be solved.
In this legislation we have had amendments that are designed to provide long service leave for as few as two or three men in a special category. That has made the legislation as complicated as it is and has created the difficulty of presenting the bill in one piece. If the Minister had wished he could have said: “That is the bill. That is the end of it. We will leave it at that.” But it was pointed out to him by the industry and by his departmental officers, I would say, in consultation with the A.C.T.U. and the W.W.F. that there had to be amendments to the bill as it was in order to cover individual and special cases. I compliment the Minister for agreeing to introduce the amendments in the face of possible criticism such as the honorable member for Hindmarsh has offered.
The honorable member for Petrie referred to the use by the authority of the power under section 36 to equate loss of attendance money with a day of suspension. He mentioned a case of men in Newcastle who lost 142 days of attendance money, which was the equivalent of 120 days of suspension. I think this is a matter that should be examined. It may be that the provision is not being applied in the way that was originally intended. I agree that the original intention was for this provision to operate during a port stoppage. I did not know that it was being used as the honorable member for Petrie has said, but I would like to know the circumstances in which it was so used. I think it is not unlikely that the men themselves may have preferred this approach. I do not know; I am not able to say whether they did. However, if the provision is being used in this way and if this is not accepted by the men, the position should be examined and the authority should direct its attention to whether a proper use of the provision is to equate four days attendance money to one day of suspension. If it is being used as a disciplinary measure, I cannot say anything more than I have already said, that it is absolutely essential that we have peace on the waterfront. This is a very special industry.
– May I just interrupt the honorable gentleman? The honorable member for Petrie has made a mistake. It was 142 men for three days, not three men for 142 days. His facts are just not right. It is regrettable and I do not like pointing this out, but the honorable member for Bruce is very interested in it and I want to correct the facts. The honorable member for Petrie has the figures the wrong way round.
– I am grateful to the Minister for informing me of the position. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) pointed out that I appear in the industrial jurisdiction in my profession as a barrister. I am proud of the fact that I do so appear and that I have some understanding of industrial matters. I do not resile in any way from the fact that I have appeared for shipowners. The facts that were presented in those cases made it perfectly clear that the strikes upon which proceedings were taken for contempt of court in the Commonwealth Industrial
Court were held only at the behest of Communists who had positions of authority in the unions. None of these strikes had as its basis a serious industrial dispute.
The honorable member for East Sydney also said that the reason why conditions on the waterfront are so good is that the Waterside Workers Federation has acted militantly. That may have been true in years gone by. I am bound to say that the union achieved something by its militancy in earlier days, but that was many years ago. Conditions on the waterfront are now so good that the men go on strike for no sound reason at all that could be determined by arbitration. That was clearly illustrated during the recent wool loading dispute in Sydney, in which all parties agreed to be bound by the decision of Mr. Justice Ashburner, the deputy president of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, and were in fact so bound. That instance shows that such a matter can be resolved by arbitration without the loss of millions of manhours on the waterfront resulting in incredible harm to the people of Australia. I think it was realized that-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Chairman, I desire to make a personal explanation. The honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) said that I quoted an instance involving three men and 142 days’ suspension. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) corrected those figures and pointed out that 142 men were involved in three days’ suspension. I quoted correctly from the figures supplied to be by the Waterside Workers Federation. The Minister may have access to more accurate information but, at the same time, the complete table of suspensions under section 36 (3a.), (3b.) and (3c.) of the act reveals individual cases of heavy suspensions where the men returned to work the next day. 1 agree that the Stevedoring Industry Authority may not be properly using section 36 (3.) (a), (b) and (c). I would like the Minister to look into this matter as the honorable member for Bruce suggested.
.- Mr. Chairman, the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) and the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Cockle) both made utterances which should be very closely examined by members of this committee and by the people of Australia generally, because I believe they have a great deal of what might be termed philosophical significance in the politics of this nation. It is an attitude towards the people who work, as against those who own property. This is the basis of the perpetual struggle on the waterfront.
The honorable member for Bruce claimed to have a clear understanding of the position and a close acquaintance with industrial affairs. One of his difficulties is that he looks at this question from only one side of the fence. He has said that the waterfront industry is a very special industry. In that case is it not time we started to introduce special conditions of work on the waterfront? It is nonsense for the honorable member to say that the waterside workers have such good working conditions that they now strike for nothing, and that militancy was reasonable and logical enough 50 years ago but not now. Does the honorable member understand exactly the working conditions of people who have to live on £16, £17 or £18 a week and whose employment and livelihood are subject to fluctuations in overseas trade and the departure and arrival of ships?
Is there any reason why people who unload ships should have working conditions different from those of people who unload trains or aeroplanes? Is it not time that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) and his department examined the shipping industry in order to put the livelihood of waterside workers on a permanent basis of security? Of course, the issue here is the right of the community to demand from one group within it the meeting of obligations which are not inflicted on the rest of it. The fact is that the honorable member for Bruce, the honorable member for Warringah, the Minister for Labour and National Service, his department and members of the Liberal Party say to the members of the Waterside Workers Federation: “You have a duty to work and you must work. If you do not, you will be compelled to work and you will be disciplined.” So penalties are imposed which the honorable member for Petrie (Mr. O’Brien) said were becoming increasingly savage and causing great hardship. There is compulsion on the waterside workers to work, but no compulsion on the Government or the shipowners to supply them with work.
The honorable member for Bruce said he did not know of any instance where the shipowners had refused the waterside workers work. We, on this side of the chamber, know of countless occasions on which the shipowners have diverted ships elsewhere. Every ship could be withdrawn from the Australian coast to-morrow and this Government would not raise a finger to prevent that happening. The shipowners have absolute and unqualified authority over their ships and can send them where and when they will. There is no compulsion on them to send their ships into or out of port in accordance with the needs of the community. They can do what they like in that respect. Yet we tell the thousands of waterside workers that they are bound by duty to the community to do what they are told. We deny the right of the community to exercise this disciplinary function against any individual. No one who believes in freedom and the right to stand up for oneself can support the penalties which this Government is inflicting on the trade union movement.
The waterside workers are Australians who carry out their duties under conditions that are not especially favorable, with pay that is meagre in the extreme, yet the Government imposes these penal provisions on them. I hope the people of Australia - and particularly members of the Liberal Party, who are keen on talking about freedom and liberty - will examine their consciences and consider the remarks of the honorable member for Warringah, whose attitude on discipline could have been lifted from the “ Fundamental Laws of Fascism “, which can be found in the Parliamentary Library in the writings of Benito Mussolini. There is no fundamental difference between the attitude expressed by members on the other side of the chamber and the doctrines of Mussolini.
– Mr. Chairman, I speak in protest against the intimidatory provisions of the Stevedoring Industry Act and I support the amend ment moved by the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison). I was struck by a statement by the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden). He said that one amendment in the bill gave three or four men long service leave, and he looked on that provision as something to be applauded. I agree that it is something to be applauded, but the honorable member also said he was still in favour of the retention of the penalty imposing the loss of four days’ attendance money. That penalty applies not just to three or four men. In the case of a total stoppage on the Australian waterfront it could involve 20,000 men. In Port Adelaide alone it could involve 2,000 men who would pay a total penalty of £10,000 for a day’s loss of pay.
The honorable member said that there was no need for the waterside workers to stop work and that they only stopped under the direction of Communists. He brought communism into the picture. The honorable member said that what happened years ago did not matter, but I can cast my mind back to the time before there was a Stevedoring Industry Act and before the men had the protection of the court to the extent that they have it to-day.
In those days there was in Port Adelaide a vigilance officer whose opinions were the antithesis of communism. He was right against anything of a communistic nature; he was not a fellow traveller or anything of that kind. If this man saw happening on a ship something which he considered to be a wrong to the men or their organization he would say to the men, “Put your coats on and come up “, and the men would come up. They were justified in taking that action in view of what had occurred. If that happened to-day, immediately the men stopped work for the day the penalty could be imposed on them.
The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) will not get peace on the waterfront by means of intimidatory legislation. Six, seven or eight years ago the Minister for Labour and National Service brought down a bill containing an intimidatory provision under which the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority could approve men for employment on the waterfront. Instead of going through the medium of the Waterside Workers Federation the authority could say, “ We will put these men on and register them “. At that time I told the Minister that if he brought in that legislation he would be bringing in something that would cause turmoil on the waterfront.
– And we then had the greatest period of peace on the waterfront that we have ever had.
– I remind the Minister that that was never put into effect. The authority never registered anybody. The authority realized in those days that by so doing it would be acting against the interests of the workers and the industry itself. I remarked some time later that the Minister had taken heed of what I said at that time and had not gone on with the prosopal. I now say to the Minister, as I said when the long service leave bill was before the committee, that by putting in a penalty clause providing for the loss of four days attendance money, he was not bringing in a bill to provide long service leave for waterside workers but was bringing in a bill designed to intimidate them. That is the effect it has had. The honorable member for Bruce said that this is a special industry and that we must have these penalty clauses to be able to keep these men and make them work. As I mentioned in this chamber just recently, there was a 24-hour stoppage in the railway industry throughout New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and one other State, but does the honorable member suggest that that stoppage was caused by Communists? He does not suggest that about the railway industry, but when speaking of waterside workers he says we must have this legislation to prevent Communists from controlling the waterfront. In my opinion that is absoluely ridiculous.
In South Australia, elections are held among waterside workers from time to time to appoint a management committee yet only one Communist has been elected to that committee over quite a number of years although about a dozen other men, not Communists but most of them active workers of the Australian Labour Party, have been elected. I have been opposed by a Communist candidate every time that I have been nominated for this Parliament, but because the Communist candidate is a waterside worker does it necessarily follow that the waterside workers are opposed to me? No; they are my greatest asset; they are the men who do the most work for me. The waterside workers in South Australia put their money into the Labour Party, yet when there are stoppages they are accused of being controlled by Communists and it is suggested that something must be done about it! The Minister said just now that we are having our greatest period of peace on the waterfront. I take it that he was referring to the period since the 1961 legislation was passed.
– Almost a record.
– It is almost a record.
– Leaving Sydney out.
– I say to the Minister that he is treating the waterside workers almost as though they were criminals. If a man was arrested by the police for creating a disturbance, when he came before the magistrate next day he would probably be fined £2 2s. with 30s. costs, yet the Minister believes that a man who stops work because he feels he is entitled to do so as a protest should lose four days’ attendance money, which is a little over £5! Some of the best men I have ever known work on the waterfront and it cannot be suggested that they stop work because of any Communist influence. They stop work because they feel that they are entitled to enter a protest, and that it is the only way they can register their protest. It is all very well for the Minister to say that if men have a grievance they can go to the Arbitration Commission, but they can only approach the commission on a matter concerning the whole waterfront, rather than an incident on a particular ship. They can take the dispute to a board of reference, but I am sure that no judge in the world would have fined the waterside workers in the last eighteen months a sum of more than £700,000.
– Your figures are quite wrong.
– The Minister suggests that my figures are wrong. I have not the table of figures with me, but the honorable member for Petrie (Mr. O’Brien) stated the amount that has been lost by waterside workers through the withholding of attendance money. The figure might be £600,000, but whatever it is it is not a penalty imposed by a judge. If the penalty had been left to a judge it would have been no more than £500 a day. If there were a stoppage in Port Adelaide and the shipowners took action against the waterside workers, the highest penalty that the judge could impose would be £500. If I am wrong in that statement I invite the Minister to interject. Despite that limitation upon the judge’s powers the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority is given the power to deprive men of four days’ attendance money for every day of a stoppage. As I mentioned earlier, that would represent £5 for each of 2,000 men, which would mean a total penalty of £10,000. So, although the legislation prescribes £500 as the maximum penalty that can be imposed by a judge, the authority is able to fine them £10,000. If that is not intimidatory, I would like to know what intimidation is. The Minister shakes his head; I suppose he will say it is not a fine. It is rather like the man who goes to the races and bets on a loser.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) and the Government are trying to take a great deal of credit for themselves over the introduction of long service leave on the Australian waterfront. Evidently what some honorable members do not appreciate is that what the Government has done is to introduce long service leave and then, by imposing penalties on the waterside workers, make them pay for their own leave, which means that they do not benefit at all. Let me cite some of the amounts imposed as fines, and I use the word “ fines “ because in arriving at this total I believe that not only penalties imposed by the Commonwealth Industrial Court should be counted but losses of attendance money as a result of decisions by the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority. The waterside workers have now suffered in fines £780,000 since the introduction of this scheme.
If any honorable member should care to work it out he will find that the amount by which the waterside workers individually and through their organization have been mulcted by action of this Government would pay for all the annual leave to which waterside workers in Australia are entitled, and still leave some margin. Let us consider that in a different way: If we take all the money paid to waterside workers for sick leave and long service leave and deduct that from the £780,000 that has been imposed upon them in penalties, there is still a margin. This makes it quite evident that this Government has done nothing whatever for the waterside workers. The Government has introduced long service leave, but by imposing these savage penalties has made the waterside workers pay for it themselves.
Let me give another illustration in respect of the cancellation or suspension of attendance money. On an average about 480 men lose their attendance money each day on the waterfront. It is quite obvious that in the period of industrial peace of which the Minister has been prating we have had all these savage penalties imposed on industrial workers.
Some members have talked about the discriminatory action of the Commonwealth Industrial Court and of the Stevedoring Industry Authority against the Waterside Workers Federation. Reference has recently been made to the last penalties which were imposed on the federation, amounting to £2,000. Those penalties related to two stoppages. In one stoppage one branch was involved. In the second stoppage branches in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide were involved. That was a national stoppage, but it was not regarded by the court as one stoppage. The court treated it as three separate stoppages and instead of imposing one penalty of £500 on the union it imposed a penalty of £500 on each of the three branches for having been engaged in the same stoppage.
Let us take this procedure to its logical conclusion: I understand that there are 44 branches of the Waterside Workers Federation in Australia. If the court were to adopt the same attitude in regard to another national stoppage, each of those branches could be fined £500 for a stoppage which occurred on the same day and the total penalty payable would be £22,000. I believe that it is too ridiculous and fantastic to believe that any section of the Labour movement, industrial or political, will allow this state of affairs to continue. It must lead to unrest. It must lead to stoppages. Whilst it is perfectly true that not only the Waterside Workers Federation but other industrial unions can expect to receive much fairer treatment from an incoming Labour government, they have to suffer this Government at the moment and they are continually faced with these savage penalties.
Let me give one more illustration to show how ridiculous the present situation is. It amazes me that the waterside workers have been able to display so much patience and refrain from actual stoppages when they have had so much provocation for stopping work. The Minister for Labour and National Service has often said that he works in close co-operation with the Australian Council of Trade Unions on industrial matters. The Australian Council of Trade Unions, as every member knows, has set out on a national campaign for three weeks annual leave and wage justice for workers in industry. In conjunction with that campaign, the various Labour councils in the States, acting as branches of the A.C.T.U., convened conferences. One was held in Melbourne, and all the delegates of federal unions that were to be affected by this issue were invited to attend. I think that, in round figures, 1,500 delegates attended. There were 84 job delegates from the Waterside Workers Federation who wanted to attend the conference. They applied for leave, but it was refused. In view of the importance of the conference, they decided that, nevertheless, they would attend. Of the 1,500 delegates who attended the conference the only ones penalized for attending were the 84 waterside workers. They were suspended, suffered the loss of three days’ attendance money and were each fined £5 13s. The members of the Melbourne branch immediately decided to stop work in protest against this unjust decision. Then the wheels began to move and another penalty of £500 was imposed on the Waterside Workers Federation for backing up the job delegates who attended this conference.
There are so many instances in which this legislation and the powers of the Stevedoring Industry Authority and the Commonwealth Industrial Court have been used unjustly against the waterside workers that it amazes me that there has not been more industrial disturbance on the waterfront. I sincerely hope that, instead of talking about the activities of the Communists causing industrial strife on the waterfront - which seems to be the alibi that the Government always uses to justify or apoligize for its action against industrial workers - it will get down to real issues.
In a ridiculous statement, the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) attributed turbulence on the Australian waterfront to the alleged fact that the waterside workers’ conditions were too good. He said that that was why they engaged in industrial stoppages. Did you ever hear such a ridiculous statement from a supposedly responsible member of the Australian Parliament? The honorable member tried to use his argument both ways. Earlier, he said that when a man went home and told his wife that he had been suspended for a day the imposition of the penalty was a deterrent to stoppages because the wife would influence the husband to remain at work. Then he told us that waterside workers were so prosperous and had such abnormally good conditions that they were continually involved in industrial stoppages. It is utter foolishness for members to advance such arguments.
I hope that when the Minister for Labour and National Service replies to the case put forward by the Opposition he will explain how the Government can justify the savage penalties which have been imposed on the organization and the workers in this industry. I should imagine that even the court would hesitate if called upon to impose, in addition to savage penalties already inflicted on the union, penalties amounting to £700,000 in respect of attendance money. I support the action taken by the Opposition on this question. If we fail in this action, although we represent 300,000 more electors than the combined Liberal Party and Country Party, the day will come when we will repeal this obnoxious legislation.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I think the Opposition has been given a second opportunity to engage in a secondreading debate on this bill. I do not regret that. We want to give the Opposition all the opportunities it needs to put its point of view on this clause. It has had those opportunities. The arguments of the Opposition members during the second-reading stage of the bill can, I think, be crystallized in three sections: The first concerns their opposition to penalties. The second, to which the honorable member for Petrie (Mr. O’Brien) has referred, concerns alleged discrimination between members of the Waterside Workers Federation and the steamship owners. The third, to which the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) referred, relates to a question that was addressed to me and an answer that was given by me in this chamber some weeks ago relating to trouble on the Melbourne waterfront.
On the very broad question of penalties, historically, the Australian Labour Party ought to know the facts. The original section 36 in the stevedoring legislation was inserted as a result of a committee of inquiry which had as one of its members the very revered Communist and leader of the Waterside Workers Federation, the late Mr. Healy, who was a great and revered friend of the honorable gentleman from East Sydney. Mr. Healy admitted that penalties were necessary in waterfront legislation. If the honorable member for East Sydney likes to look at the legislation he will see the date of it. He should remember its history. He was supposed to be a member of the Chifley and Curtin governments and he should remember the origin of the legislation and its purposes.
– I was a member of those governments, but I do not accept your version of the legislation.
– I do not care whether you do or not. It would be a pleasure to me to think that you did not. It has been said before, but I am compelled to say agin, that the stevedoring industry is a turbulent one. But there is no need for turbulence because it can be proved that the men themselves do not want to be constantly pulled out on strike by their Communist leaders. When the men are left alone, they will work, and they work under pretty good conditions of employment and for good pay. I would like to see the conditions improved, but I cannot hope to see them improved when the men are needlessly called out on strikes by the Communist Party of Australia.
The facts relating to strikes were put by my friend and colleague, the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden), and I hope he will forgive me for repeating them. When you look at the record, you will see that until the 24-hour stoppage called by the federal council of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia recently, 99.7 per cent, of the strikes were in Melbourne or Sydney, where the local branches of the union are dominated by members of the Communist Party.
– Rubbish! The Minister does not know what he is talking about.
– The honorable gentleman knows the members of those branches. Would he call Roach a Communist? Would he or would he not call all his friends in the union Communists? The simple fact is that the men do not want the strikes. They are called out on strike needlessly. But, when they are called out on strike, the penalty has to be paid. When we in this place think of this problem, Sir, we think of the nation’s interests. A country like ours, dependent, as this country is, on its overseas trade, could not afford to do without penalties when so many needless strikes are called by the Communist elements in the Waterside Workers Federation.
I say quite categorically that the Australian Labour Party inserted the penalty provisions. This Government believes that they are essential in the nation’s interests, and the penalties will be retained. I do not for one moment think that responsible members of the Opposition are sincere when they state that they will abolish the penalties if Labour ever again forms a national government.
The second point related to the offences, or alleged offences, of steamship owners. I have already explained this matter in answer to the honorable member for Petrie. The simple truth, when the problem is analysed, is that these offences mainly are committed by tramp steamers which are here for only a very short time and are then gone. It is very difficult, in such cases, to follow up a prosecution. If the offence is not committed by a tramp steamer, it is usually a simple offence such as a failure properly to number or to identify particular items of ship’s gear under whatever system of registration applies. I have pointed out to the honorable member for Petrie that my colleague, the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman), and I, in co-operation, have amended the regulations to enable us to take more rapid action where tramp steamers are involved, so that a prosecution may be launched at the earliest possible moment. Furthermore, I am now attempting, in co-operation with the Department of Labour and National Service and the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, to overcome the minor difficulties associated with the identification of equipment. I was just as disturbed as was the honorable gentleman from Petrie when I read the report of the Stevedoring Industry Authority. I assure him that I am pursuing the matter as rigorously as I can and that, if there are breaches of the safety regulations, I shall do my best to see that prosecutions are launched and successfully concluded in appropriate cases.
The third point relates to the remarks made by the honorable member for East Sydney, who wanted answers to his questions about the strike on the Melbourne waterfront. The men went on strike needlessly when they were not given leave to attend a stop-work meeting called by the Australian Council of Trade Unions. I can add nothing to what I said in this chamber in answer to a question. The men did not apply for leave to attend the meeting until it was too late for the leave to be granted. The men on the Sydney waterfront applied for leave and it was given. The men on the Melbourne waterfront, however, went on strike on a most flimsy pretext. The strike was not called by the officers of the Melbourne branch of the Waterside Workers Federation. It was called by two men who were not officials of the organization. They held no official positions in the organization and had no right to call the strike. Subsequently, the decision to strike had to be verified by officers of the federation. So I reply in general terms to the political arguments that have been advanced.
Now, Sir, may I mention an allegation that has been bandied about too often. This relates to the amount of attendance money actually withheld - if I may use that term - to the end of September. All sorts of figures have been stated. The amount actually withheld to the end of September was not £700,000, as has been stated, but £233,000.
– Add to that the amounts still outstanding and remaining to be collected. Give us that figure.
– I shall give the honorable member the figures. But I ask him to use correct figures when he has to give us figures. He is speaking in terms of fines imposed. These amounts do not represent fines. They represent sums withheld for days not worked. If the honorable gentleman wants to know, to the end of September, attendance money was suspended for the equivalent of 470,915 man-days. As I have said, the amount actually withheld totalled £233,000.
I turn now to the provisions of the clause at present before the committee. The amendment proposed by the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) has several purposes. I shall not deal with all of them. Only two have actually been canvassed before the committee. The first purpose is to delete from section 36 of the principal act a provision which enables the Stevedoring Industry Authority to cancel the registration of a waterside worker if the authority is satisfied that he has been convicted of an offence against State or Commonwealth law and, in the opinion of the authority, he is unfit to be registered as a waterside worker. The kind of offence covered by this provision is the receiving of pillaged goods or an assault on a foreman or a member of the staff of the authority. Would any one suggest that where a man has been convicted of assault, theft or pillage the authority should be deprived of the right to cancel his registration? I do not believe that any sensible man would suggest that the authority be deprived of that right.
When Mr. Monk saw me in Sydney some time ago, he said that the clause now before the committee was pretty generally worded, and I agreed. I added: “ If you can give me a clause in specific terms that will effectively deal with the matter, I shall have a look at it. If I think it is reasonable, 1 shall try to accede to your request.” But Mr. Monk and his colleagues were not able to devise a clause that was sufficiently specific and would effectively permit the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority to carry out its intentions. I regret that the first purpose of the amendment proposed by the Opposition has not been effectively debated before the committee.
The second purpose of the Opposition’s amendment is to eliminate the authority’s power to substitute suspension of entitlement to attendance money for deregistration.
– That is the main purpose.
– I have the honorable member’s assurance that that is the main purpose. This, also, is a matter that has been effectively canvassed by me, the Department of Labour and National Service, the Waterside Workers Federation and the Australian Council of Trade Unions. We ought to bear in mind the fact that this power to substitute suspension of attendance money is exercised by the authority when there is a shortage of labour in the port and the authority does not want to lose a man’s labour for the day by deregistering him.
– How many times has the authority exercised that power?
– I shall get the figures and let the honorable gentleman have them. Would any one in this chamber, or, for that matter, any sensible person anywhere, argue that when there was a labour shortage on the waterfront we should suspend a man’s registration at the very time when his labour was urgently needed? If suspension of attendance money entitlement is substituted for deregistration, the waterside worker has an opportunity to earn his usual wages. He works and he receives the reward for his labour. I believe that sensible people will admit that in cases such as those which I have mentioned it is much more preferable to permit a man to lose his attendance money than for his registration to be suspended. As I have said, there are other reasons associated with this el e, but the ones I have mentioned are those which have been actively canvassed in the committee in support of the amendment. The Government is not prepared to accept the amendment. The law as it stands will remain.
– Mr. Chairman, I wish to make a personal explanation.
– -Does the honorable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. The Minister claimed that I was incorrect in stating that the amount of attendance money withheld was £660,000, and that the actual amount was £233,000. The Minister implied that the fines had not totalled £660,000 but only £233,000, the amount collected by the authority.
– Order! The honorable member m.ustmust not debate the matter. He has made his point and I suggest that he should let the matter rest there.
– I am explaining my point.
– The honorable member has made his personal explanation.
– I shall not delay honorable members for very long because in view of what the Minister has said I propose to divide the committee. I want to make three observations. The first relates to the Minister’s statement that we were responsible for the penal clauses being incorporated in the legislation. I remind him and the committee that we were a party to the provisions of section 36 in what is now the act of 1956. My proposed amendment would merely restore the authority’s power to deal with the waterfront along the lines of our previous agreement.
I have always paid a good deal of attention to the remarks by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Cockle) since he has been in this place. I want to couple his remarks with those of the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) because they both have had long experience in industrial law. My second observation relates to their statements that there would have been no trouble on the waterfront if the waterside workers had approached the courts as they did during the wool loading dispute. If the authority had had the power to deal with these matters as they are dealt with in outside industry the wool dispute would have been before the court the day after it arose.
– What about the board of reference?
– Forget about the board of reference. The dispute could have been before the court the next day. Honorable members should recognize that this has been the cause of trouble on the waterfront. My third observation is that the law has been shackled. I leave it to the two honorable members I have mentioned to bring this matter to the notice of the Minister and of the Government because until we approach it in the correct way we shall not have sanity on the waterfront.
Question put -
That the amendment (Mr. E. James Harrison’s) be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Sitting suspended from 5.59 to 8 p.m.
Amendment (by Mr. McMahon) proposed -
Omit paragraph (a) up to but not including the proposed sub-section (3d.), insert - “ (a) by inserting after sub-section (3c.) the following sub-section: - “.
– This amendment restores clause 3 (l.)(c) of the 1961 legislation. The deletion moved by the Minister meets the situation to which we had directed attention, and the Opposition supports the amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
.- I move-
Omit from proposed sub-section (6.) all the words after the word “ Authority “, second occurring, insert “shall pay to the waterside worker by way of compensation such amount as the Authority determines as being equal to the whole of the loss of wages of attendance money and of payments in respect of public holidays suffered by the waterside worker.’.”.
Clause 9 contains the following provision:-
Where the Authority, under sub-section (3d.) of this section, varies or sets aside the suspension of the registration of a waterside worker or the suspension of the entitlement of a waterside worker to attendance money,-
Because at that point of time the authority has made its decision as to the validity or otherwise of the action taken against the waterside worker - or, under sub-section (4.) of this section, revokes the suspension of the registration of a waterside worker, the Authority may pay to the waterside worker such amount as the Authority thinks proper by way of compensation for loss of wages and attendance money or for loss of attendance money, as the case requires.
The Opposition feels that when the authority revokes the suspension of the registration of the waterside worker the provision for payment of the whole of the amount so lost should be mandatory.
– The honorable gentleman has stated the purpose of his amendment. As the law stands, the authority has a discretion to pay a sum of money to the man when it revokes the order of a local representative suspending the man from employment or suspending his registration. Should the payment by the authority be made mandatory or should the authority be permitted to have a discretion in the matter? We take what I think is the commonsense view, which is that it is proper to give the authority discretion, because one can never tell exactly what the circumstances of a revocation of a local authority’s order may be. There could be all sorts of circumstances associated with a revocation, and we do not think that the authority should be tied as to the amount which should be paid. Up to the present moment the authority has not had a discretion to make allowance for public holidays, and we have provided in the amendment that the authority should have within its discretion the amounts to be paid, and that it should take into consideration amounts in respect of public holidays. So we intend to keep the discretion given to the authority but we intend to give it a wider discretion as to the amount that should be paid. We cannot agree to the Opposition’s amendment.
– Before the bill reaches another place I should think it would be necessary for it to be reprinted, and I hope that the Government will take that opportunity to have a second look at this matter. I appreciate the fact that the Minister will be moving another amendment which will correct the position insofar as we take it on the question of the authority paying also for any time lost. I do not propose to divide the committee on the matter, but I ask the Minister to have another look at it. The Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Waterside Workers Federation consider that once the authority has determined that a suspension was wrong the payment should be mandatory.
Amendment (by Mr. McMahon) proposed -
In proposed sub-section (6.), omit “for loss of wages and attendance money or for loss of attendance money “, insert “ for any loss of wages, any loss of attendance money and any loss of payments for public holidays or for any loss of attendance money “.
– For the reasons that I have just indicated we support this amendment because it improves the position substantially.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 10 agreed to.
Section thirty-seven a of the Principal Act is amended by inserting after sub-section (1.) the following sub-sections: - “ (1b.) The Commission shall, in determining whether it is reasonable that the waterside worker should be paid compensation for the reduction in his earnings, and in determining the amount of the compensation that should be paid, have regard to all the circumstances of the case, including -
Section proposed to be amended. 37a.- (1.) Where-
Amendment (by Mr. McMahon) proposed -
Omit- “11. Section thirty-seven a of the Principal Act is ‘amended by inserting after sub-section (1.) the following sub-sections: - “,
Insert - “11. Section thirty-seven a of the Principal Act is amended -
by omitting from sub-section (1.) the words ‘loss of wages and attendance money’ and inserting in their stead any loss of wages, any loss of attendance money and any loss of payments for public holidays’; and
by inserting after sub-section (1.) the following sub-sections: - “.
– This amendment has a similar effect to the last one submitted by the Minister and the Opposition supports it.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
Omit paragraphs (a) and (b) of proposed sub-section (1b.)
This provision concerns the determination of compensation after an appeal has been upheld. Before the commission comes to the consideration of the five matters mentioned in proposed new paragraphs (a), (b), (c), (d) and (e), there must have been an appeal, and the appeal must have been upheld. In my opinion, and in the opinion of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Waterside Workers Federation, this provision amounted to a kind of double-banking. We have no objection to paragraphs (c), (d) and (e). We agree that the commission should have regard to any delay in the prosecution of the appeal to the commission against the cancellation, as provided in (c). That is to stop any skulduggery that might go on in the case of a man delaying an appeal, knowing that he has a good case and will probably be paid for time for which he would not be paid if he bad not caused delay.
We agree that the commission should consider, as set out in (d), “the steps, if any, taken by the waterside worker to obtain other employment during the period of the cancellation”. The commission is entitled to inquire into that matter, and also into the matter covered by (e), “ any income received by the waterside worker during the period of the cancellation, being income that, but for the cancellation, he would not have received “. We agree that the commission should inquire into those things, but we do not believe, and I think the Minister would agree with us, that a man should be put on trial a second time. This provision covers only cases in which the commission is determining whether it is reasonable that compensation should be paid for the reduction of earnings, and such cases would really involve only the determination of compensation after an appeal is upheld.
I submit that our amendment carries with it a just principle that should have been embodied in the original legislation. If a man has had an appeal upheld, and it is simply a matter of determining whether and what compensation should be paid, then all that the commission should inquire into are the questions involved in paragraphs (c), (d) and (e). A man should not be put on trial a second time by making an inquiry into, as set out in (a), “ the circumstances out of which the cancellation of the registration of the waterside worker arose”. That matter should have been dealt with under the provisions of section 36, and should have been disposed of before reaching the stage of determining whether compensation should be paid and the amount of such compensation. As I say, we believe that this proposal constitutes a kind of double-banking, and we suggest that our amendment is reasonable and should prevail.
.- The honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) said that this proposed provision would apply after a compensation appeal had been upheld. This, of course, is not so. What is upheld is the appeal against cancellation of registration. It is not a matter of putting a man on trial a second time. It is simply a case of an appeal against cancellation having been upheld, and then the deciding of the question whether the man ought to receive compensation for the period during which his registration was cancelled.
At the time the man’s name is restored to the register the question of compensation arises, and I think it is perfectly proper for the commission to have regard to the matter set out in paragraph (a), “ the circumstances out of which the cancellation of the registration of the waterside worker arose.” In a particular case a man’s registration may have been cancelled, and it may have been thought, at the time of cancellation, to have been a reasonable and proper exercise of the authority to cancel the registration. Later the authority may have said, “We will restore his registration, but what he did was sufficient to deserve the penalty, and his registration should in fact have been cancelled”. The authority then, as an act of grace, says, “We will let him be reregistered “. At that point of time I think the authority should properly consider the circumstances in which the cancellation of the registration took place. The authority may say: “We will restore his registration but he is not entitled to compensation. If he gets compensation, then we will not show the clemency that we would otherwise show.”
I think this provision may re-act to the benefit of the waterside worker who wants to be re-registered. If it is accepted that a man can be re-registered only if he is given compensation, then the authority is likely to decide against taking the step of reregistering him. For this reason I believe that paragraph (a) is very important in the interests of the waterside worker, and I am quite surprised that the honorable member for Blaxland does not see the matter in that light.
Paragraph (b) refers to the commission considering “ any failure by the waterside worker to furnish to the authority at the inquiry . . . information furnished by him to the commission …” I think this is a perfectly proper matter for the commission to take into account in considering compensation. The authority should not be deprived of information whenever it is available. Whereas paragraph (b) is something that the authority needs for its protection, paragraph (a) is one that the waterside worker needs for his protection. Paragraph (a) should remain in the interests of the worker, and (b) is a proper provision in the interests of the industry as a whole.
– The honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) has contended that proposed new paragraph
Then we come to stage two. The learned judges must then consider what compensation is to be paid. The honorable member for Bruce has tried to convince us that paragraph (a) has been included for the benefit of the waterside worker himself, and that if these provisions were not in operation the particular judge involved might not be lenient. Those with experience on the waterfront know that in many cases men have had their registrations cancelled and have appealed to the commission, but those appeals have not been heard for six, twelve or even eighteen months. Admittedly our learned judges say, “Because of the delay or because of the hardships you have experienced in losing your employment and the means of obtaining income for your family for eighteen months, we are prepared to put you back in your job “. It is quite wrong for the Government to assume that a judge in so determining a case against a waterside worker would say to himself, “ I must be careful here, because if I put this man back I will have to pay him a lot of compensation “. Surely we cannot say that this provision is for the benefit of waterside workers. Surely all honorable members would hope that our learned judges would not be influenced by the possible consequences of their decisions. Surely our judges can arrive at a decision without fear of the consequences.
The position is simply this: If a lay person, delegated by the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, with no legal training whatever - I do not think there is one delegated representative of the authority who is trained in law - in interpreting the act takes away the livelihood of a waterside worker and subsequently a judge trained in the interpretation of the law decides that the lay person was incorrect, the judge’s decision should be the only decision. A man may appeal to a court of law and say: “ I have been unjustly treated. My livelihood has been taken away. I have been twenty years on the waterfront. I have committed a breach which I do not consider is a very serious breach, but I am now forbidden to be a waterside worker. The only work I can turn my hand to is waterfront work and this livelihood has been taken away from me.” If a judge upholds the appeal and finds that the man’s livelihood was incorrectly taken away from him, all that should remain to be done is to assess compensation for loss of earning power while he was deprived of his livelihood. It is very simple.
The amendment moved by the Opposition to delete proposed new sub-sections (1a.) and (1b.) is most important and relevant in our attempts to ensure that the workers obtain justice. Proposed new sub-section (1b.) reads in part -
Cb) any failure by the waterside worker to furnish to the Authority at the inquiry held under section thirty-six of this Act in relation to the cancellation information . . .
The report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority shows that there were 2,000 cases of being under the influence of liquor on the Australian waterfront. A man charged with being under the influence of liquor appears before the delegated representative of the authority. Under British justice, the case must be proven against him. This is not the French law where the accused is required to prove his innocence. The onus is on the employer to prove that the man was under the influence of liquor. During the case, which is conducted by a lay person with no judicial training, the waterside worker says, “I am innocent”. The employer brings just sufficient evidence to enable the lay person to convict the water side worker and to remove his means of livelihood.
The case subsequently goes to the Arbitration Commission. In the interim, the waterside worker is approached by a friend who says, “ I am sorry I did not appear at the inquiry to give evidence on your behalf, but I remember quite clearly that you were steady on your feet and you were working as any normal person would. I will appear before the Arbitration Commission for you “. This gentleman, a man of good standing on the waterfront, gives evidence for the waterside worker. The learned judge accepts his evidence and upholds the appeal of the waterside worker. Now comes the argument about compensation. The authority says, “This man withheld the information of this witness at the time the inquiry was held under section 36 and he should not receive compensation “.
In moving this amendment, we say that if the Arbitration Commission is to be the ultimate authority to determine whether a waterside worker’s livelihood should be taken away from him and if the commission upholds the appeal of a waterside worker against the decision of a public servant who has no judicial training, there should be no question about the award of compensation. The amendment moved by the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) is correct and in accordance with the system of justice that we have in this country.
– Most of what I would have liked to have said and to have put in detail has already been put by the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden). I am sorry that both the honorable members for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) and Petrie (Mr. O’Brien) have not thoroughly understood the purpose of this provision. It is intended solely to help the waterside worker and is included on the advice of the Crown Law authorities.
The purpose of the amendment can be put very quickly in this way: When an appeal against suspension is upheld and a claim is made for compensation, the waterside worker must direct his attention to several criteria when he is conducting his appeal. The waterfront is quite different from any other industry, because all too frequently witnesses move from one place to another. They may be on a ship. It would be impossible to get them at the time they were required to appear before the commission. So, while giving the right of appeal, we have stated that the onus is on the waterside worker. I think the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Waterside Workers Federation have generally conceded that that is sensible.
What we have said is that if the waterside worker is to receive compensation, he must direct his mind to several criteria. Two of them, and only two of them, have been challenged by the Opposition. The first one is the original ground on which the appeal was made, and after all an appellant must put the facts before the commission. Why should he not do so, and how could any one object to that? I frankly do not understand the grounds for objection here. The objection would not be made if the purpose of the provision were truly understood.
The second point, and equally important, is that when the man asks for compensation and it is disclosed on the appeal that certain information that he could reasonably have been expected to have put at the original inquiry had not been put - probably for the purpose of obtaining compensation - he should be asked why he did not put the facts in the first instance. It may be a case of deceit. If it is deliberate deceit, he should be compelled to give the answer. If it is an accident, then he should say it is an accident and I am sure the commission, if he could prove his case, would believe him.
So I can put my case pretty strongly and firmly on this. This is for the benefit of the waterside worker himself, in the first place to establish his right to appeal and, in the second place, to prevent what I choose to call a misapplication of public funds. On those grounds - and in support of what the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) has said - the Government cannot accept the amendment.
– Mr. Chairman, although I do not profess to match the legal knowledge of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) I do not agree with his sub mission. To me this is rather simple language. The provisions of clause 11 of the bill seek to amend section 37a of the act by providing under paragraph (b) of proposed new sub-section 1 (a) the method of dealing with the question of compensation where appeals are upheld. The paragraph states -
The Commission, upon consideration of an appeal against the cancellation, sets aside the cancellation;
The provision, then, in proposed new subsection (1b) is that in considering compensation the same set of circumstances shall apply. I still think the Minister is wrong. Legal authority equal to or perhaps better than the Minister’s will be consulted before this legislation reaches another place, and we will press our amendment in that quarter.
.- An appeal to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission is an appeal against the action of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority. If the case goes against the authority and the commission upholds the waterside, worker’s appeal the authority is the loser and must pay the compensation. It is open to the authority to explore every avenue in order to charge the appellant before the commission with not having supplied full information to the inquiry under section 36. It is an appeal from Caesar unto Caesar. The authority says to the commission “We did this on certain grounds “. If the judge rules against the authority it will, in every case, say that certain information was not supplied at the inquiry. For economic reasons the authority must object to the payment of compensation and it is only human nature for its representatives before the commission to look at every shred of evidence submitted at the inquiry in the hope of being able to charge the waterside worker under sub-section 1 (b) of section 37a, with not having supplied information. That will be done time and time again.
I appreciate the Minister’s intention in 1961 - and now - to provide some form of c compensation, but that compensation will always be payable by the authority, which will endeavour to find a way to save its face before the commission. Every time the authority cancels registration and an appeal is upheld by the commission that is a reflection on the local representative in one of the 52 ports. It is a reflection on the authority, showing that it has acted wrongly and so, to justify its existence and actions it will explore every avenue under paragraphs (a) and (b) of sub-section (1b.). When an inquiry takes place the waterside worker is brought before a gentleman sitting at a table and is asked whether or not he is guilty. It is not like the proceedings in a court of law, where all the evidence is taken down. Minutes of the proceedings are taken by girls of perhaps eighteen or twenty years of age, who are not trained as verbatim reporters, as “ Hansard “ men are. The submissions are later corrected by the local representative. Many things which are said may not be reported in the minutes of the inquiry and the local representative may delete or add. The fact is that when the authority loses a case before the commission it will endeavour to avoid having to pay compensation. For these reasons the compensation provisions provided in the 1961 amendment are not worth much.
– Mr. Chairman, the point which the honorable member has obviously overlooked is that this is an appeal from the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, and the presidential member of the commission is a justice of the court. He is a highly qualified and skilled legal man. If the authority, in its wisdom, decides that it wants to present evidence, it is for it to put the evidence, but it is for the presidential member of the commission to determine what the result will be. I do not think the fact that the authority itself decided to oppose the application could affect the decision of the commission, and I do not think that the provision could act to the detriment of the man concerned.
I regard the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority as the custodian of the rights of individual waterside workers. Members of that body - I know them pretty well - are men of the highest integrity and of great industry and ability. I could not hear it said in this chamber - without rejection - that these men are likely to be petty, hostile or vicious towards the rights of the individual. I regard such a suggestion as something which should not be put and which could not be sustained in this chamber. I am sorry to have had to intervene on a second occasion. But, as I have said, I believe the honorable member’s submission to be wrong.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
After section thirty-seven a of the Principal Act the following section is inserted: - “ 37b. - (1.) Subject to the next succeeding subsection - “ (4.) Where a registered waterside worker makes application to the Authority for the transfer of his name to Part A of a register of waterside workers under sub-section (8.) of section thirtyone a of this Act and, as at the expiration of a’ period of one month after the application is made, the Authority has not transferred his name to Part A of the register, and has not served on the waterside worker notice in writing of refusal of the application, the Authority shall, at the expiration of that period, be deemed, for the purposes of the last preceding sub-section, to have refused to transfer his name and to have served on the waterside worker notice in writing of the refusal. “ (7.) Where a board constituted under this section upholds an objection made by a waterside worker under sub-section (3.) of this section, the Authority shall set aside the suspension of the registration of the waterside worker or transfer the name of the waterside worker to Part A of the register, as the case requires, and, if the objection was made to a suspension of registration or to the transfer of a name to Part B of a register, may pay to the waterside worker such amount by way of compensation for loss of wages and attendance money as the Authority thinks proper.
Amendment (by Mr. McMahon) proposed -
In sub-section (4.) of proposed section 37b., omit “ one month “, insert “ fourteen days “.
– This amendment seeks to reduce the period of one month in this provision to fourteen days. This is one of the matters for which we pressed and therefore the Opposition supports the amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
In proposed section 37b., omit from proposed sub-section (7.) all the words after the words “Part B of a register,”, insert “shall pay to the waterside worker such amount as the Authority determines as being equal to the whole of the loss of wages, of attendance money and of payments in respect of public holidays suffered by the waterside worker.”.
The original purpose of this amendment was the inclusion of public holiday pay for waterside workers in certain circumstances. The only difference between this amendment and the Minister’s circulated amendment No. 5 is that the Minister still insists on the payment being other than mandatory as we require. I think the Minister should have a second look at this question before a decision is made. If it was a question just of assessing an amount perhaps there would be some reason why the flexibility the Minister wants should remain. I put it to the Minister that he should have a second look at this because in each case a decision has to be made as to the entitlement of a worker and, that decision having been made, there is then the question whether the payment in full should be mandatory.
– I have nothing to add to what I said before.
Amendment (by Mr. McMahon) proposed -
In sub-section (7.) of proposed section 37b., omit “ loss of wages and attendance money “, insert “ any loss of wages, any loss of attendance money and any loss of payments for public holidays “.
– This amendment, too, meets a request of the A.C.T.U. and the Waterside Workers Federation. It provides for payment for public holidays to be brought into the field of assessment. We support the amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 13. (1.) Section forty-five c of the Principal Act is amended -
by omitting from paragraph (a) of subsection (4.) the word and letter “or (d)” and inserting in their stead the letters and word “,(d) or (e)”;
Section proposed to be amended. 45c- (4.) In ascertaining the period of qualifying service of a person for the purposes of this Part, the following periods shall be deducted from the period during which he has been continuously registered as a waterside worker under Commonwealth stevedoring legislation within the meaning of this section: -
any day on which he was dismissed from his employment for misconduct or failed to comply with - a
Amendment (by Mr. McMahon) proposed -
In sub-clause (1.), omit paragraph (d).
.- It would be helpful if the Minister would indicate briefly the intention of the amendment. Members of the committee cannot be expected to understand it as it is printed.
– The purpose of the amendment is to leave the act as it stands. The explanation is rather technical, but I should be happy to provide it in written form to the honorable member.
– The committee should be made aware of the subjectmatter of the amendment, at least in brief. Most of the Government’s amendments are the result of discussions between the Minister, his department and the Waterside Workers Federation.
– We are relieving the situation.
– I know that you are relieving the situation and I do not want to take any credit away from the officials of the A.C.T.U. for what is being done. All we regret is that you and your departmental advisers have not been flexible enough to meet the requests of the A.C.T.U. in their entirety. I think it is necessary to indicate to the committee what is being done. I assure the Minister that I am not cavilling at the amendment. I understand that its purpose is to leave the relevant section of the act as it is because of the possible consequences mentioned by the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones). I am quite happy, and I know the honorable member for Newcastle will be happy, to know that the principal act is now to be left as it stands.
– I am glad to hear that the honorable gentleman and his friend are happy to have the existing provision left as it is. As I have said, this is fairly complicated. What we were attempting to do by clause 13 as it appears in the bill was to insert a new provision to the effect that, when the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority suspended an entitlement to attendance money under section 36, instead of suspending registration, qualifying service for long service leave would be reduced by the number of days for which the authority would have suspended registration, if it had in fact suspended the registration - not the number of days suspension of attendance money, but the number of days for which the man would have been suspended. The argument put to the department, and later to me, was that the effect of the amendment would be to introduce a new penalty on long service leave at the very time that the Government was removing the tags from long service leave. That happens to be quite incorrect, but my view was, and I take complete responsibility for it, that if there was likely to be misinterpretation and misunderstanding of this clause then, frankly, I would prefer that the benefit of the doubt should go to the waterside workers. I think my staff will agree that I gave personal instructions that, to prevent misinterpretation, we should keep the original section as it was.
.- On 15th June last year the Minister promised that there would not be any extension of penalties. The 1961 amendment to the act, because of the substitution of loss of entitlement to attendance money in lieu of suspension of registration, meant that waterside workers were deprived of only one qualifying day for long service leave on the day of the breach. So, if there was a port stoppage on a particular day and a substitution made of four days’ loss of attendance money - previously it had been twelve days - for three days’ suspension of registration, the only loss in qualifying service was the day of the breach under section 36 (3c). That meant that the man lost only one day of his twenty years’ qualification. That was because the loss of attendance money substituted for suspension of registration could be recovered one day in two weeks’ time, a couple of days in three weeks and so on. It might have taken three or four months before the attendance money was recovered.
In promising not to extend the penalties in the act the Government realized its error. A waterside worker who has committed a breach and has been suspended for three days, loses four days’ annual leave credit. Under the 1961 provision, by omission, when there is a suspension of his entitlement to attendance money in lieu, he loses only one day, so it was decided that this must be corrected. The correction is proposed because it is very awkward mechanically for the authority to delete these days. For instance, in the case of waterside workers in Sydney who possibly owe 70 or 80 days’ attendance money, it may take twelve months to recover this. The suspension of a day’s qualifying service for long service leave might not occur until the next year. So the intention is to say, “Your continuity of registration is suspended. Therefore you lose the day of the breach. And if the suspension is three days and a suspension under section 36, sub-section (3a.), is received for attendance money you will now lose four days’ work if you are suspended for three days.” This is an anomaly that was not foreseen in the amendment introduced in June, 1961. This applies to the whole arrangement of long service leave.
AH the applications that I mentioned before could have been obviated by applying the provisions that apply to annual leave for waterside workers over twenty years. A simple provision which could have been expressed in no more than three lines would have sufficed. This would have avoided the need to increase the authority’s staff by 50 or 60 new employees and it would have avoided large overhead costs in 1964.
The Minister promised the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the federation that there would be no extension of force and no extension of penalties other than what was forgotten in 1961. That is to say that the waterside worker lost only one day’s qualifying service when he committed a breach and attendance money was substituted. But that has gone by the board. This is an extension of the penalties that existed under the enactment of June, 1961. That is the intention of this clause. It corrects a small anomaly but it makes sure that the waterside worker is hit squarely on the chin on every occasion when he is in breach.
.- The honorable member for Petrie (Mr. O’Brien) has adopted an incredible attitude to this matter. A well-known story used to be told by a former member of this chamber about somebody who was always grizzling while good things were going his way. This is precisely what the honorable member for Petrie is doing. Good things are going his way. Government amendment No. 1 on the circulated list is directly concerned with this amendment. When Government amendment No. 1 was put to the vote the Opposition accepted it. Now that we have reached this amendment which is merely consequential upon the acceptance of the principle of amendment No. 1, the Opposition asks why the Government has submitted it. The Minister for Labour and National Service has told the committee why the Government has submitted it.
I think that the explanation, in simple form, is this: If, on Monday, a person committed a breach which attracted discipline under section 36 and, on Tuesday, the authority suspended him for two days, he would lose two days of his long service leave credit because of his suspension; but if the authority had converted it into attendance money the man would have lost the one day, Monday, on which the breach had occurred. This was an anomaly in the drafting which it was intended to correct. The Minister has said that he has looked at this matter and said, “Well, anomaly or no anomaly, we shall leave the provision in the form in which it was expressed in 1961, which is more advantageous to the waterside worker”. For the honorable member for Blaxland to demand an explanation of this when he has already approved of the earlier application of the principle, and for the honorable member for Petrie to complain about it, is so remarkable that I cannot understand the attitude of either of them. They should certainly accept the amendment proposed by the Government.
Amendment agreed to.
.- I move-
In sub-clause (1.), omit paragraph (e), insert the following paragraph: - “ (e) by omitting from paragraph (a) of subsection (4.) the words and letters ‘(a), (b), (c) or (d)’ and inserting in their stead the word and letters ‘ (a), (c), (d) or (e)Y
This is a technical provision. If we examine sub-section (4.) of section 45c of the act we shall understand the intention of the proposed amendment. At present, a break in the continuity of a waterside worker’s registration due to illness or injury that renders him incapable of carrying out the duties of a waterside worker is excluded from the calculation of long service leave. We believe that this is an incorrect position. We believe that if a waterside worker is ill or if he is injured and unable readily to carry Out the duties of a waterside worker he should not be deprived of his aggregation of long service leave. Undoubtedly the Minister will claim that such a provision is included in one or two State acts, but it does not operate as harshly as is the case with the act now under consideration. It is the feeling of the Opposition and of the Australian Council of Trade Unions that during the period for which a waterside worker is off duty through illness his aggregation of long service leave should not be affected. We believe that if a waterside worker is off duty through any illness or injury that is regarded by the authority as being genuine the worker should not lose any time in the calculation of long service leave. It is the intention of the proposed amendment to produce that result. I know that this is contrary to the policy of the Government, but I am pressing the amendment because it is our firm view that the break of continuity in registration due to illness or injury should not be taken from the workers’ aggregation of long service leave.
– The position at present is that two conditions must be fulfilled before a man can get long service leave. The first relates to continuity of his registration and the second to qualifying service. Under the act as it now stands absences of up to fifteen days in any year, either on sick leave or workers’ compensation, count as qualifying service. We intend to provide by amendment No. 10 that a man can add to that period sick leave’ granted on a medical certificate, even if it is not paid for, subject to the fifteen days limit in any one year. So the fifteen-day limit will stay. But if a man produces a medical certificate and is granted leave without pay with the approval of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, the period of such leave can be computed as part of his qualifying service.
– Still with the limit of fifteen days?
– Yes. We think that this is fair. The intention of the Opposition’s amendment, as was the original intention of the Government when it brought down the earlier measure, was to ensure fairness. We compared our measure with the acts of the various States. We believe that our own is more generous than are most of the State acts. For those reasons, Sir, as I have said, the matter is not important and we reject the Opposition’s amendment.
– My reply to the Minister is that, because I received his amendment so late, I was not able to examine closely the proposed extension of the time. I may be able to achieve the objective by the deletion of certain words from another amendment relating to the fifteen-day limitation. I shall have a close look at the matter when we come to that later amendment. If necessary, we may be able to deal with this when the measure is considered in another place.
Amendment (by Mr. McMahon) proposed -
In paragraph (1) of sub-clause (1.), omit “ (iv) “, insert “ (v) “.
– Mr. Chairman, this amendment is merely consequential and we offer no objection to it. In fact, it is necessary.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. McMahon) proposed -
In sub-clause (1.), omit paragraph (m).
– This amendment, also, is consequential, and we make no objection to it.
Amendment agreed to.
– Mr. Chairman, I suggest that the next two amendments standing in my name be taken together.
– Is it the wish of the committee that the next two amendments standing in the name of the honorable member for Blaxland be taken together? There being no objection, that will be done.
– I move-
In sub-clause (1.) (p), proposed sub-section (9.) (a), omit “ employed “, insert “ available for employment “.
In sub-clause (1.) (p), proposed sub-section (9.), omit paragraph (b).
These amendments relate to entitlement to long service leave. One of the main purposes - and I think the Minister will agree with me - is to give proper entitlement to long service leave to workers at B class ports. The bill as drafted seems to provide that only time actually engaged in work on days on which attendance money is paid, shall be taken into account for the purpose of reckoning entitlement. I have in mind B class ports such as Mackay. At some of these B class ports, in the present employment situation, the men are living on a pretty meagre income, and very often on unemployment benefit in the periods when there is no work available on the waterfront. Yet the men, in the main, are available for work 365 days a year, the same as are the men registered at A class ports. We believe that it is not proper to count, in reckoning entitlement, only days that are worked or days on which attendance money is received.
I remember the Minister, in his secondreading speech, saying that men at B class ports are subject to all the rules and requirements to which regular watersiders at A class ports are subject. They are subject to suspension, to reporting as required and to all the other requirements with respect to attendance imposed on the regular watersiders at A class ports. The purpose of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia and the Australian Council of Trade Unions is, by means of the first of these two amendments, to provide that days on which men at B class ports are available for employment shall count towards entitlement for long service leave.
It may be that the Minister will say, “ It is pretty hard to test this availability for employment”. I will not have that. I will not accept that there is no way of testing it. Nothing attempted is nothing done, in my view. If a man is available for work at a B class port, every day on which he holds himself ready for work at that port should count in his entitlement to long service leave. That is the view that we hold with respect to a number of ports - again, I mention particularly Mackay - where there is no casual work available. I recall that I was once at Urangan some years ago when no ships were available for work. The men there lived on the fish they could catch and unemployment benefit. Yet they were available for work at any tick of the clock to work shifts at the port. It seems to me unreasonable to say that only days on which a man works or on which he receives attendance money shall count.
I know that comparisons are odious. The honorable member for Petrie (Mr. O’Brien) spoke this afternoon about the average working time on the waterfront. It is pretty low at the present time - not much more than half time. That is at A class ports. So why should we deny the men at B class ports the right to count towards entitlement for long service leave all the time for which they are available to the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority for work?
The reason for the second of these amendments is that, if the first is agreed to, paragraph (b) of proposed sub-section (9.) in sub-clause (1.) (p) will become redundant.
.- Mr. Chairman, the amendments just proposed by my colleague, the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison), are reasonable. This bill establishes at B class ports an A register and a B register. Such registers do not exist now at those ports. Therefore, we must consider the situation of the waterside workers engaged in stevedoring operations at the B class ports. Some are waterside workers who possibly belonged to a port which in years past was an A class port but because of mechanization and the fluctuations of shipping now has been reclassified as a B class port. They are still clinging to the hope that one day the port will recover. They have no other industry to turn to.
The men in B class ports register with the authority for work, giving it the right of demand when a ship comes into port. If they do not appear they are subject to the disciplinary action provided for in the principal act. Therefore, many of these men who are registered solely for waterfront work must, when the port is declared seasonal or not working, register for unemployment benefit or seek employment elsewhere. But, if they are receiving unemployment benefit, immediately a ship comes in they must notify the Department of Social Services that employment is available or, if they are working, they must notify their employer that they are required on the waterfront and must leave the job on which they are engaged.
It is essential to the industry that organizations which are running ships to B class ports should have a pool of labour available. Many of the men registered in B class ports are fishermen, sugar workers, meat workers, cane cutters or casual workers of other kinds when there is no work on the waterfront. They have only their labour to offer to the stevedoring industry. Therefore the amendment asking that men who make themselves available solely for waterfront work be given credit for the time they are waiting for this work to become available has been proposed.
In my opening remarks I said that these ports now have an A and a B register. These registers differ in various ports. The B register in the port of Melbourne does not cover specifically men of 65 years of age and over. It is a different kind of register altogether. A similar system applies in other ports. In a B class port the authority may determine that men who are available for waterfront work exclusively, who are under the prescribed age and who qualify should belong to part A of the register whereas older men and those who work only part-time in the industry should belong to part B of the register. The men who hold themselves exclusively for waterfront work may work on a ship for two or three weeks, receive unemployment benefit for a month, and then go back to waterfront work for another two or three weeks. I remind the committee that I am speaking now of coastal towns where alternative employment is not readily available. The men work on a ship and then register for unemployment benefit. They could be considered as being covered by part A of the register. The Opposition’s amendment, which is in keeping with provisions relating to an A and a B register, is reasonable.
If a man agrees to hold himself available all the year round for waterfront work because it is his only means of livelihood, and when no ships are in port he has to depend on unemployment benefit he surely is entitled to some consideration. He suffers many hardships. When his work on the waterfront ceases and he registers for unemployment benefit, he has to wait for two weeks before the unemployment benefit is paid to him. When a vessel comes in he is bound by the penal provisions of the act to make himself available for the waterfront work. He may work for only two or three days on the waterfront and then have to go through the whole procedure of applying for the unemployment benefit once more.
By the amendment which is now proposed the Opposition is seeking to give men in that category some consideration. Now that there is an A and a B register we ask the Government to consider placing on the A register those men who are available exclusively to the waterfront industry. If they are available exclusively their availability must play a part in qualifying service for long service leave purposes. Those men who work only part-time on the waterfront and spend the rest of their time on farms - I know many such cases - should belong to part B of the register. The workers in Mackay should receive some consideration. Four years ago 400 men were employed there but to-day there are only 60 who still cling to the hope that one day Mackay will be a big port again. Those men work on a ship for a few days, then receive unemployment benefit, then go back to the waterfront for a few days, and then are back on unemployment benefit again. All we ask by our amendment is that those men who make themselves available exclusively for waterfront work should, because of this availability, receive the benefit of qualifying service for long service leave purposes.
– It has been explained already that there are at least two types of ports in Australia. The first is the A class port where men must attend daily throughout the year to retain their registration. At such ports shipping usually is continuous and the men can expect to receive regular employment. In B class ports shipping is not continuous. The men may be required for a few days or they may be required for many. It would be completely wrong to expect those men to be always available for employment. They need be available for employment only when ships are in port and they are actually called upon to work.
The honorable member for Petrie (Mr. O’Brien) tried time and time again to create the impression that these men on the waterfront are a dull sodden lot; that they cannot get employment anywhere else and that because they are such a poor unfortunate lot they should receive special consideration. I do not accept that view of waterside workers. I regard them as men of considerable physical ability and attainments. I believe that most waterside workers in B class ports are well able to look after themselves by obtaining alternative employment when there are no ships in port.
Let us consider the actual provisions that we apply. In the case of B class ports the men are entitled to include as qualifying service the days that they work and the days on which they are called up, do not work but are paid attendance money. The Opposition is asking that they should be paid whether or not they are called up and whether or not they work.
– No, we are not asking that they be paid.
– I am sorry; I used the word “paid” incorrectly. What I meant was that the Opposition is asking that days on which the men are available but are not called up and in respect of which they are not entitled to attendance money, should be included as qualifying service. We do not regard this proposal as a matter of common sense or as a matter of justice. We believe that if the men are called up and work, or if they are called up and, being unable to obtain employment, are paid attendance money, this should count as qualifying service. We do not accept that days when they are available but are not called up should also be regarded as qualifying service.
– On what the Minister has said, it is obvious that he does not propose to make any alteration to this. To me this is a vital situation. You have men virtually hanging on the tree to be picked off as required by the authority, yet these men are told that their entitlement to long service leave depends on the number of ships that come into a port. I had thought that the Minister would indicate that the Government was prepared to take another look at this matter, but he has shown that he is not prepared to look at it again on behalf of the Government. Therefore, I propose to bring the issue to a division so as to make our stand on the matter quite clear to all members of the committee. It is no use the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) shaking his head at me. This is a vital matter because it affects a body of men who are at the call of the authority for 365 days a year. The Minister indicated that so far as he was concerned the only qualifying days in respect of long service leave would be days worked or days for which attendance money was payable. If that is the best that can be done, I wonder why we bother with legislation with respect to the great number of men who are engaged in these B class ports. After all, we are not living back in the days of 1862. This is 1962, when we have a national programme in front of us. In those circumstances, let us be fair and provide that where a man is available for work, and work is not available for him, the time for which he is available will be included as qualifying time for long service leave. Is anybody on the other side of the chamber going to tell me that a man who has worked for twenty years in a B class port and has been available for work three days a week will have to wait another twenty years before he will be entitled to the mere pittance that is represented by long service leave? It is a mere pittance. We are dealing with a national organization which means something. I heard the honorable member from Queensland’s Gold Coast speak to-day in a way that did him little credit. I have heard said in this place on many occasions how important the waterfront industry is to Australia. Then let us be fair to the blokes employed in that industry, who make themselves available for work all the year round. Because we feel so deeply on this matter we will call for a division on it.
– Before we divide let us test both the logic and the sincerity of the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) and, for that matter, of the honorable member for Petrie (Mr. O’Brien). I have done my best to be fair and to give them every opportunity to put their point of view. The Government’s provision for long service leave for workers in B class ports is particularly generous. I met the Australian Council of Trade Unions - the supreme governing body of the trade union movement - and the Waterside Workers Federation executive and put my proposals on long service leave to them. They were overjoyed with the provisions as they applied to B class ports. They did not ask me to make any amendment to the proposals in relation to B class ports, and in subsequent discussions with my staff they circulated a list of suggested amendments, none of which dealt with long service leave in B class ports. If honorable gentlemen opposite claim to be so closely associated with the trade union movement - I include the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), particularly if he claims to know something about the Waterside Workers Federation - how can they explain the fact that there is no mention in that list of suggested amendments of the grant of long service leave for men in B class ports when they are available for work? So this opposition did not stem from the A.C.T.U. or the Waterside Workers Federation or from anybody closely identified with the industry. As most people would agree, the provision that the Government has included in the measure is a generous one, and if the Opposition likes to go to a division on something so completely foolish, let it take the responsibility for its action and let us go to a division.
.- Mr. Chairman-
Motion (by Mr. McMahon) put -
That the question be now put.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . .1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the amendments (Mr. E. James Harrison’s) be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. McMahon) proposed -
In sub-clause (1.) (p), proposed sub-section (9.), omit proposed paragraph (d), insert the following paragraph: - “ (d) days on which he was on -
– I am glad the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) is in the chamber. A little while ago he tried to make capital out of what I asked the Minister for Labour and National Service. All I said to the Minister was that when an amendment is brought before the committee we should be told clearly the reasons for it. I did not ask the Minister to enter upon a lengthy dissertation about the meaning of the amendment. Evidently the honorable member for Bruce was not listening to me, so I will repeat what I said. I do not think this committee should be asked to vote on a proposal if it is unaware of the details of that proposal. As I understand it this amendment is necessary - and perhaps the honorable member for Bruce will follow me this time - to make the provision consistent with the new conception of permanence. It is a more comprehensive measure and constitutes an improvement, and for this reason the Opposition supports it.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. McMahon) proposed -
In sub-clause (1.) (p), proposed sub-section (9.), omit proposed paragraph (e), insert the following paragraph: - “ (e) days, not exceeding fifteen days in any year ending on the thirteenth day of June-
on which he was on sick leave with pay;
on which, after the commencement of this sub-section, he was on sick leave that was granted by the Authority and was certified by a medical practitioner as being necessary on account of an illness or injury; or
on which he was incapacitated by reason of an injury or illness in respect of which be was paid compensation under a law of the Commonwealth or of a State or Territory of the Commonwealth relating to the payment of compensation to employees by virtue of the application of that law in relation to his employment as a waterside worker;”.
– The question is, “ That the paragraph proposed to be omitted stand part of the clause “.
Question resolved in the negative.
– by leave - As an amendment upon the proposed amendment, I move -
In sub-clause (1.) (p), proposed sub-section (9.) (e)-
Omit “, not exceeding fifteen days in any year ending on the thirtieth day of June,”;
Omit “ with pay “.
The Minister has helped us now because he has gone so far as to provide that after the commencement of the sub-section sick leave granted by the authority and certified by a medical practitioner as being necessary on account of illness or injury will be included in the calculation of long service leave. The Minister will tell me that the South Australian and Victorian acts have a limitation of fifteen days on the amount of time that can be lost through sickness or accident in any one year. But after all, this is the National Parliament. This Parliament should be setting examples. Can any one tell me why sick leave granted by the authority and certified by a medical practitioner as being necessary on account of illness or injury should not be included as part of a waterside worker’s actual service in calculating long service leave? That should be the only test imposed by a national parliament. If sick leave is approved by the authority on a certificate from a medical practitioner, why should the period taken into account in calculating long service leave be limited to fifteen days?
As I understand the waterside workers’ award, a man can accumulate a maximum of only fifteen days’ sick leave in three years. If for two years he takes no sick leave at all and at the end of the third year he is absent through sickness for a month - those of us who have suffered influenza recently know that a man can be sick for a month - he is paid for three weeks and under this bill he would be allowed only three weeks in calculating his service. The fourth week of his absence would be deducted from the aggregation of his long service leave. In 1962, a national parliament in a free country should not be legislating in this way. I have yet to learn that this is justice.
We should not be looking at some act in Victoria or in South Australia or somewhere else. This is a national parliament that should make its own decisions on these matters. I am pleased that the Minister has brought in this amendment and I want to give credit to the officers who are responsible for it. The amendment gives us a better understanding of what is intended and is a big improvement on the original drafting in the original bill. I give credit to the officers responsible for it; it has made my job much easier. Employment on the waterfront is now becoming government employment. We all consider that the waterfront is important in our national arrangements. We should forget about the State acts and remember that we are a national parliament dealing with a body of men working under the rules of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, which was set up by this Parliament.
Surely the only test that should be applied is whether a medical certificate has been produced and accepted by the authority. We are not asking that any time a man may be absent without leave or without a medical certificate should be included; but we are asking, as this amendment makes clear, that if time lost by a man is covered by a medical certificate and leave is approved by the authority, it should be included in the calculation of his long service leave. This is the simplest form of justice that could be given to a sick man in legislation passed by the National Parliament.
I have given an instance of a man who is absent for four weeks after serving for three years without taking sick leave. The same principle would apply if he had not had any sick leave for five years, because he can accumulate only fifteen days sick leave. If he did not lose any time for five years and then lost four weeks at the end of the five years, he would be allowed the three weeks for which he was paid and the fourth week would be deducted from his service for long service leave purposes, although he produced a medical certificate and the leave was approved by the authority. If the committee is happy about this situation, the difference between the thinking of honorable members on this side of the chamber and honorable members on the Government side is revealed.
.- The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) in amending sub-section (9.) (e) of section 45c of the principal act has made a concession to the industry. He is now prepared to give credit for part of the fifteen days to those men who produce a medical certificate although they are not necessarily paid. That concession is welcomed by honorable members on this side of the chamber. However, the position has been approached in the wrong way by the officers dealing with it. Time and time again it has been said here that the stevedoring industry is a turbulent industry. It is unusual; it is casual work. The accident rate on the Australian waterfront is higher than that in any other industry. In reply to a question which I recently asked in this chamber I was informed that in some ports the accident rate among waterside workers is as high as 2 per cent, of the available work force. The accident rate is very important on the waterfront, because the nature of the work on slippery decks, steep ladders and uneven surfaces causes waterside workers to be subject to more accidents than are people working in departmental stores or offices. Yet when the long service leave provision was made, the qualifying time for a waterside worker, in time spent on compensation, was equated with the provision in long service leave acts relating to workers in other industries. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) says that the fifteen days’ provision in regard to compensation is about the same as the corresponding provision in long service leave legislation for other industries.
Over the years the matter has been argued before the court in relation to the payment of annual leave for waterside workers and the judges have determined that because of the high accident rate on the waterfront and the number of men on compensation each day the qualifying period in this industry should be 42 days a year. That was a decision arrived at in relation to annual leave in this industry after years of deliberation. But when it comes to long service leave, the officers do not consider all the complexities of the industry and they draft legislation according to the practice in relation to annual leave. They turn aside from the existing practice regarding annual leave in this industry and go to other industries where the accident rate is not so great. It has been said in this chamber that the mass of men registered on the waterfront in 1942 are not expected to go on long service leave until 1964, because of the loss of periods of qualifying service through strikes and stoppages. I remind the committee that I asked a question in this chamber about the number of men who had lost three, four or five years’ service through being on compensation and that the number quoted in reply was alarming.
If a waterside worker falls down a hatch and is seriously injured he may be off work for three years and has to give 23 years or 24 years’ service before qualifying for long service leave. It may add three, four or sometimes five years to the qualifying period before long service leave becomes available. As I stated previously in this chamber, the great bulk of waterfront registrations after the war were of ex-servicemen in their thirties and they will probably have to wait until they have nearly reached retirement before they qualify for long service leave. The large numbers registered in 1946, 1947 and 1948 are possibly due to qualify in 1967 or - I add a couple of years due to compensation - perhaps in 1970. Long service leave is supposed to provide for a worker a rest from the industry so that he can return in better mental and physical condition to carry out his duty to his employer. This, in itself, may reduce the number of accidents on the waterfront. Paragraph (e) of proposed sub-section (9.) of section 45c makes provision for a period not exceeding fifteen days in any year. I believe the Government should have given consideration here to this industry and not to other industries where, for example, employees walk around in shops and there may be one compensation case a day among SOO employees. With an average daily work force of about 1,200 men on the Brisbane waterfront there may be 150 employees on compensation. A store like Myers Emporium, with an average daily force of 1,200 employees, would not have 150 employees a day on compensation. The officers drafting this legislation should not have equated the turbulent waterfront industry with soft industries in relation to the qualifying period for the purposes of long service leave. When it has been determined over the years for annual leave purposes that 42 days is a reasonable period for a man to be off sick and on compensation in a year, why should not the same provision be made regarding long service leave? But no, the provision contained in the measure is for fifteen days only.
I commend the Minister for his slight alteration of the amendments moved by the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison), who said that he cannot move an amendment on an amendment to an amendment. On 4th October last there were 23 amendments circulated to the principal act and a month later, because of deliberations and points raised we find another ten or twelve amendments are brought forward. What will happen in the near future? There will be amendments after amendments after amendments. I repeat that the authority would not have needed to employ the present staff in relation to long service leave if the Government had legislated here for the same provision as applies to annual leave to be applicable to long service leave over twenty years.
It is to be hoped that in the future there will be a simple amendment made to take out all the restrictions, including this harsh provision for fifteen days. Why penalize a man because he is off work for one or two years? If a man has fallen down a hatch and injured himself and the doctor says he will be off work for two years the worker may say to himself, “ I have eighteen years towards my long service leave and will now have to do 22 years “. He is off for two years, but had he been working he may have registered 500 days towards his qualifying service. Being off work he may get only 30 days towards his qualifying period and it then takes him another two years to qualify. I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Blaxland, although it is a contentious amendment to an amendment to an amendment. The fifteen days’ period should be made 42 days, as applies in relation to annual leave.
.- This amendment has very little merit and any merit it has relates to the question of 42 days or fifteen days as the qualifying period. If the amendment moved by the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) were agreed to a person could be on sick leave for an indefinite period of time.
– Limited by a doctor’s certificate.
– And approved by the authority.
– I see in this chamber an honorable member of another place who frequently appears in civil law claims to represent waterside workers who have been injured. I have no doubt he will agree that if a waterside worker brings such a claim in a civil court for damages for loss of wages he can recover the damages just as surely as he can recover any damage he suffers through his long service leave being forestalled for a period. But that is a passing matter and is really not the issue. The issue is that this is a period of time which counts as a qualifying period for long service leave. It is not a question of interrupting continuity of service. If a man is injured and is off work for a long period, his continuity is not interrupted for purposes of long service leave.
– This is not a continuity bill; this is a long service bill.
– Quite. There is no question of continuity. That is the only thing that could be raised. The honorable member for Blaxland is suggesting that if a man is injured and is off work for, let us say, six months, during that period of six months his continuity of service should continue for purposes of long service leave.
– Yes, if it is approved by the authority.
– But the authority will not be able to approve of such a period being counted as qualifying service. What the authority can approve of is that a person who is away from his work may continue to be registered as a waterside worker. That is the whole point. If honorable members look at the legislation of any of the States they will find the provision that when a man is ill and away from work, with a medical certificate, his continuity of service shall not be interrupted. In most legislation even that provision is not in absolute terms but is restricted to a period of time. If a man is away for longer than the period prescribed, his continuity of service will be disturbed. This legislation does not enable interruption of continuity of service through illness. What it does do is say that for purposes of computation of long service leave only fifteen days will be counted.
I think this is a perfectly proper and fair provision. Otherwise you could have the situation where a badly injured man who had been away from work for say five years, would continue to accrue an entitlement. So, if be had fifteen years’ service and then became ill, and after five years was still ill, he would have twenty years’ service for the purposes of computation of long service leave entitlement. Looking into the future, when long service leave can be taken after twenty years - I think it is in 1964 - that man could actually be off work under a doctor’s certificate, and have been away from work for three or four years, and while he continues to be off work under a doctor’s certificate he can be on his three months’ long service leave.
– If it is approved by the authority.
– Just how ridiculous is this! A man who is still so ill after three or four years of illness that he cannot return to work, actually commences his long service leave? The proposition just has no merit at all.
– I would hate to be the one to take the entitlement for long service leave from a man who, with approval from the authority, had been away from work for two or three years through sickness. If this is your idea of humanity, I am glad that I am not attached to your party.
– What the honorable member overlooks, of course, is that if a man is so ill that he has been off work for a period of two or three years, then he qualifies under the other provisions of the act to get his pro rata payments immediately on becoming deregistered on account of illness.
– I will have something to say about that when I come to it.
– This is the reality of the situation: If a man is so ill, his registration must surely be a question of doubt, and when the registration is a question of doubt because of illness he receives his pro rata payment. You cannot have it both ways. You cannot have this mythical fellow, who has been used for the purpose of illustration, ill for an indefinite period of time yet still accumulating a long service leave entitlement.
– Let the authority be the judge.
– The authority is already the judge. The authority is the judge of whether or not his illness is such that he should continue to be a registered waterside worker. If he is ill then the authority has the right to deregister him and he will take his pro rata leave. I might point out to the honorable member for Blaxland that if the words “not exceeding fifteen days “ are excluded, the clause will then read, “ days in any year ending on the 30th June “. It then would not make much sense if it referred to days in any year ending 30th June, if there were no limitation on the time. To give effect to the honorable member’s amendment he would have to delete all words after “ days “.
– The parliamentary draftsman knew what I wanted and that is the way he produced it.
– The other matter is the elimination of the words “ with pay “. I do not see why the honorable member wants those words eliminated because, in the form the bill takes, there are two matters specifically dealt with. First is the case where a person is on sick pay leave and, secondly, where the person is away on compensation. The amendment moved by the Minister brings in the third category, the person who, after the commencement of this sub-section, is on sick leave that was granted by the authority. So already in subparagraph (ii) of the Minister’s proposed amendment there is the same thing as the honorable member for Blaxland is seeking to achieve in sub-paragraph (i). Therefore, if the Minister’s proposed amendment is approved there is no need to delete the words “ with pay “. For that reason there is no need to pay any attention to the proposed deletion of those words.
As to the proposal to eliminate the words “ fifteen days “, I can see no arguments that are sufficiently persuasive to convince me that those words should be eliminated.
.- Mr. Chairman, I have listened to the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) give his reasons for accepting the Minister’s proposed amendment, and all I can say is that if that kind of thinking is the best contribution that he can make to the consideration of modern long service legislation, it is apparent that he has obtained his ideas from the archives of the National Library. This bill should be amended if this Government really wants to give something to the waterside workers and is not endeavouring simply to impose as many penalties on them as possible.
Let us look at what is proposed. It would be a crime and a crying shame if a man who had been away sick for three years were allowed to continue to accrue long service leave! That would be terrible! As the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) pointed out, an employee of the authority who is too ill to work will have continuity for long service leave, subject to certificates being submitted to the authority. Those certificates must be accepted by the authority. But the Government is too lousy - and I use that word with all the emphasis that I can put on it - to give that man two weeks’ pay. That is what it amounts to. This means that if a man is off work for three years, the Government is too miserable to give him two weeks long service leave, which represents roughly one-seventh of the normal entitlement. Does the Minister mean to tell me that after being off work, sick, for three years a person does not need some assistance? During that time he has been in receipt of the miserable social services payment of £7 2s. 6d. a week which is made to a married man who is sick and cannot work: To a single man or a widower, the amount paid is £4 a week. The honorable member for Bruce and other Government supporters are too miserable to give two weeks long service leave to a man who has served the authority for seventeen years. What a catastrophe it would be if, after being off work for three years due to sickness, a man was entitled to claim long service leave in respect of that period! If the man were granted the long service leave, it would save the Government from paying a miserable pittance of £7 2s. 6d. a week in sickness benefit. So this proposal would not involve a dead loss to the Government.
The provision is that fifteen days on paid sick leave shall count as a qualifying period for long service leave. That applies if the employee has not taken his sick leave year by year and has permitted it to accrue to the maximum amount of three weeks. After that, he is not entitled to accrue any long service leave. If a man is off work for fifteen days without payment - if he has used his sick leave up in some other part of the year - he will not accrue any further long service leave.
Under the act, the authority has the power to call a man in for medical examination to determine whether he is fit to continue in the industry. Under this objectionable act, which is loaded with penalties, the authority, having had a man medically examined, can say to him, “ You are no longer capable of carrying out your duties as a waterside worker and we will suspend your registration”. The man is then out of the industry. Not only has a man to produce medical evidence that he is ill and unable to carry out his duties, but the authority has the power to examine him and put him out of the industry. It has two cracks at him. The authority can get rid of him if it can prove that he is malingering. However, in a genuine case this Government is too miserable to give assistance to a man who has given at least seventeen years of service. It is too miserable to give him the benefit of the little assistance that he should be entitled to after his years of service.
Let us look at the provision concerning fifteen days on compensation. A man may f..ll down a hatch and break his leg. Like the honorable member for Petrie (Mr. O’Brien), I worked for many years in the shipping industry. I know what a hazardous industry it is. In order to realize that, it is only necessary to read in the report of the Stevedoring Industry Authority about unsafe equipment and the number of times that ships have been held up because equipment has not been safe. Any one who has worked on a ship, particularly at night time, must know the hazards associated with the industry. A very good friend of mine recently passed away. He had received a scratch while working on a ship that was being repaired. That scratch finally brought about his death. That is one of the hazards of an employee of this industry. He could have been a waterside worker instead of a boilermaker.
The position is that after fifteen days absence a waterside worker ceases to receive credits for long service leave. I feel that the Minister should have a good look at these matters and see if he cannot extend some leniency. The fact that such a provision is in some other act in South Australia or Victoria or is in the metal trades award is no reason for having it in this legislation. The metal trades award, with all its faults, is not as bad as this act. Surely we can have some progressive thinking. Surely we can write something into this legislation which is new and revolutionary - something which will extend to the men in this industry an expression of appreciation of their efforts. Surely we can give them some consideration for the hazardous nature of their work. I ask the Minister to withdraw his proposed amendment and to accept the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison), which will give to the employee in this industry those things which I believe he is entitled to receive. The authority would retain the right to call in an employee at any time for medical examination and then say, “ You are no longer capable of carrying out your duties as a waterside worker. We are going to suspend your registration.” Such suspension could be permanent or temporary as the circumstances required. That provision would still be there as a backstop, but, as far as compensation is concerned, surely a man who has been injured on the job should be granted more than a paltry fifteen days. How many men in the industry receive very serious injuries - injuries to the back resulting from falling down hatchways or falling in other parts of the ship or getting hurt by a falling load? It happens every day. As the honorable member for Petrie pointed out, this is one of the most hazardous of industries.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I think that the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) has made a pretty strong point. I do not think that this point occurred to the Minister before. The Minister is not an unreasonable man. Tonight we have tried various methods on him. We have tried attacking him and abusing him. We have tried logic. Now I want to use a little gentle persuasion, I want to remind him of what I once said about the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer). He often makes very firm decisions, but if he can be shown, even after he has publicly committed himself to a point of view, that he is wrong, he has always been big enough to reverse his decision. The test of a strong and wise man is not whether he says, “ I have spoken! I am the oracle! I will not change because if I do it will prove I am not wise and I am not the infallible Minister that I like my friends to think I am.” The indication of a strong Minister is that he says, “ There is a point of view that had not occurred to me. Having heard it, I cannot help but agree that it is worth considering and when this matter comes to another place I shall recommend its adoption.”
I want to refer to the remarks made by the honorable and very learned member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden), who seemed to think that he was making a very strong point by referring to a gentleman from another place who happened to be sitting in the gallery. He is still sitting there. The honorable member referred to is none other than Senator Sam Cohen, Q.C., who has probably handled more cases of workers’ compensation and common law actions for damages than any man who has sat in this or the other place. I know of no other man who has been so successful in this field of litigation.
– That is undoubtedly true.
– I thank you for that remark. I did not see the relevance of the honorable member’s point when he said that in cases of compensation, if a person is injured through the negligence of the employer and is successful, as he possibly would be, in a common law action for damages, he would have paid to him the whole of the wages lost during the period that he was off work. What has that to do with the dog act? What on earth has that to do with this matter? That does not touch on the issue of long service leave at all. That only shows that a worker, if he can prove negligence on the part of the employer, and if he is able to obtain the services of a barrister who is clever enough, may obtain reimbursement for wages lost. But he still cannot go to any court of law and say, “In addition to wages lost, I want you to order the employer to pay the amount that I lost in long service leave “. The honorable and learned gentleman from Bruce must see that.
– This is an item of damages that he can prove. That is the relevance of the point.
– I am not aware of any case - and I doubt whether the honorable gentleman can point to one - in which a court has added to its assessment of damages an assessment of what a plaintiff may have lost in long service leave.
– It is an item of damages.
– The honorable member says that it is an item of damages, but have damages on that account ever been paid, and has any waterside worker ever obtained them?
– Waterside workers had never received long service leave until this Government gave it to them.
– I think we can now leave the honorable and learned gentleman from Bruce for a moment and concentrate again on the Minister. I would like the Minister to try to be reasonable about this. He should be big enough to say: “ The honorable member for Newcastle has made a point. I did not think of it before. I cannot think of everything; I have dozens of things to think about. But now that the honorable member has put the point to me logically and forcibly and convinced me, I intend to prove myself a big man to say, ‘ We made a bit of a blue. For us to correct it in this chamber would be a little cumbersome, but I shall ask the Senate to correct it when the bill is before that chamber.’ “.
.- Mr. Chairman, the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) was not trying to mislead the committee, I am sure, but he suggested that a man who was absent from work on the waterfront for three years owing to sickness could not qualify for long service leave during the period of sickness. If the honorable member reads the principal act very carefully, he will find that men who are physically incapable of continuing work on the waterfront either will have their registration cancelled or will be transferred to part B of the register. The various provisions of the act will sort out those men who are off for long periods on account of sickness and they will either be placed on part B of the register or have their registration cancelled.
The concern of the Opposition about the restriction to fifteen days of the period of sickness that may be counted in the qualifying days for long service leave is genuine. Thousands of waterside workers are absent from work for periods of two or three weeks in a year on account of injury or perhaps for a couple of weeks in a year on account of sickness. I think that most workers in Australia are absent from work for a couple of weeks in a year owing to influenza and similar illnesses. Owing to the hazardous nature of the waterfront industry, there are always some men absent from work for two or three weeks on account of injury. As a result, the average waterside worker loses up to six weeks, in qualifying credits each year for the twenty years required to qualify for long service leave. Our argument is that now that the act makes provision to sort out the dormants, shall I say, from those who are active and currently working, and to place them on separate registers, we must care for those men who, owing to injury, are absent from work for more than fifteen days in a year.
There are two requirements in qualifying for long service leave. The first is that a man must have twenty years’ continuous registration. The second is that he must be available for work on 365 days a year. So he has to have a total of 7,300 days’ credit. That is why 2,000 or 3,000 men who now have twenty years’ continuous registration, and who had it last May, will not qualify for long service leave until 1964. They cannot make up the total of 7,300 days’ credit. The Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority can now say to a man: “ You are not fit to work on the waterfront. You have been off too long. Over you go to part B of the register.” A man may produce a medical certificate stating that he will be unfit for work for twelve months, and the authority will transfer him to part B of the register. While he is on part B of the register he will not have continuous registration unless he succeeds in a claim to be returned to part A. And the onus of proof of his fitness for return to part A will rest on him.
The important point is that in the waterfront industry a lot of injuries occur. Why should the waterside workers be penalized on that account? In other industries, the qualifying period for long service leave is fifteen years, and not many other requirements have to be met. In the waterfront industry, the qualifying period is twenty years, but there is a restriction which permits the counting towards qualifying service in each of the twenty years of only fifteen days when a man is absent on account of injury or sickness, and there is also the requirement of a total of 7,300 days’ credit over the twenty years. Nobody on the Australian waterfront has yet taken normal long service leave. Long service leave has been taken only by men who have elected to take it on attaining the age of 65 and by men who were forced to go on part B of the register at the age of 70.
Many waterside workers will be able to qualify for long service leave only after 22, 23 or 24 years of service. We say that this is not consistent with the meaning of the term “ long service leave “. In the true meaning of the term, long service leave affords a man a rest from his occupa- tion after working in it over a long period. The intention is to return him to his industry fit and able to continue for a considerable period longer. Because of the restrictions affecting the qualifying period, and especially this restriction of only fifteen days’ credit in any year for periods of absence on account of sickness or injury, one may as well say that the qualifying period for long service leave on the waterfront is 24 years.
This restriction of credit towards entitlement during periods of absence on account of injury or sickness is one of the most serious restrictions. This is a very harsh provision. The requirement of twenty years’ continuous registration is harsh enough. But, on top of that, there are these further restrictions. We must bear in mind the hazards of the industry. A survey of the records of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority will show that nearly every man has been absent for periods on workers’ compensation over the years. This is the main reason why most waterside workers will qualify for long service leave only after 22, 23 or 24 years in the industry. I think that the Minister said, in answer to a question by me, that something like 300 waterside workers had been on compensation for five years or more. Those men will qualify for long service leave only after 26 years of service.
The Government has said that long service leave will be a benefit for the men and it apparently considers that the provisions of the act are adequate to eliminate anomalies. The amendment proposed by the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) is designed to remove completely this limitation of fifteen days’ credit during periods of absence because of injury or sickness and to allow credit towards long service leave to accrue in the same way for waterside workers as it accrues for other workers throughout Australia.
– I can add little to what I have already said during the consideration of previous clauses of the bill. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) suggested that as bullying, bluster and sheer bull had failed, he could perhaps try a little blandishment. He went on to say that the mark of the statesman, or perhaps it was the polished politician, was the capacity to accept amendments after listening to the views of those most affected by a measure. Significantly enough, he also criticized me about twenty minutes ago - and so did the honorable member for Petrie (Mr. O’Brien) - on the wealth of changes that had been made and the difficulty of understanding them. Frankly, I did not want to make any of them. I have done what I did on the representations of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the representatives of the watersiders, and of my good friend from Bruce (Mr. Snedden), who has been my most consistent adviser - I might state the most generous I could have imagined in trying to get changes in this bill. I agree that, other methods having failed, perhaps blandishment might succeed. I do assure honorable gentlemen, so that there can be no misunderstanding, that everything that my good friend from Newcastle (Mr. Jones) has said was taken into consideration when we were making our decision.
Shortly put, Mr. Chairman, the answer is this: I have previously pointed out that we have to draw a distinction between continuity of service and qualifying service. In the case of continuity, certain breaks do not, for the purposes of the legislation, break the continuity. In the case of qualifying service we have provided that up to a maximum of fifteen days’ paid sick leave or leave due to workers’ compensation shall be taken into consideration in the assessment of the qualifying service. The Opposition has suggested that the limit of fifteen days be removed. What we have decided as a Government is that, in order to make the proposed legislation somewhat more generous, we will allow to count not only paid sick leave and compensation periods but also sick leave granted by the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority on the recommendation of a medical authority. The honorable member for Blaxland has said that that is a generous provision and welcomes it. But that is as far as the Government is prepared to go. We are not prepared to concede that the fifteen days’ limitation should be removed and replaced with an unlimited period to count as qualifying service.
– Having regard to the debate that has occurred and to all the statements made by the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden), I suggest that if the honorable member is still advising the Minister they might both have another look at this question before the bill reaches another place. I do not propose to divide the committee on it at this point, but I say that we will be submitting the same amendments in another place, and I ask the Minister and the Government to be more lenient in their thinking than they are at this stage, particularly having regard to what the honorable member for Bruce had to say regarding the authority having an overriding power to dispense with the services of any man at any time if he is medically unfit for his job. Whatever the Minister and the honorable member for Bruce may say, all they have been doing is looking at State acts; but under State acts there is no provision giving an authority the power to remove individual employees from an industry because of sickness. Because of that, I put it to the Minister again that before the legislation reaches another place he should have another look at this matter.
– I desire to make a personal explanation, Mr. Chairman.
– Does the honorable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. The Minister referred to me as his “ good friend from Newcastle”. I ask that that reference be stricken from “ Hansard “ because I have a lot of waterside workers in my electorate.
– The question is, “That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the paragraph proposed to be inserted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment upon amendment negatived.
– The question now is, “ That the paragraph proposed to be inserted be so inserted “.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 14. (1.) Section forty-five d of the Principal Act is amended -
a person ceases to be a registered waterside worker and the Authority, on the appplication of that person, certifies in writing that his ceasing to be so registered -
a person was, immediately before the date of commencement of this Act, a registered irregular waterside worker and -
Amendment (by Mr. McMahon) proposed -
Omit proposed sub-section (2.), insert the following sub-section: - “(2.) Subject to the next succeeding section, where -
a person whose period of qualifying service is more than twenty years ceases to be a registered waterside worker by reason of his registration being cancelled at his request;
a person whose period of qualifying service is ten years or more ceases to be a registered waterside worker and the Authority, on the application of that person, certifies in writing that his ceasing to be so registered -
arose from such an illness, incapacity or disability as rendered him permanently incapable, or likely to be permanently incapable, of properly carrying out the duties of a waterside worker or as rendered him a danger to others;
arose from a request to cancel his registration made by him on account of pressing necessity of such a nature as to justify the making of that request;
arose from a request to cancel his registration made by him after he attained the age of sixty-five years or, if be is a person eligible for service pension, sixty years; or
arose from the cancellation of his registration under section thirty-two of this Act;
a person whose period of qualifying service is ten years or more ceases to be a registered waterside worker by reason of his registration being cancelled at his request and the Authority, on the application of that person, certifies in writing that it is satisfied that he will continue to be employed in or in connexion with the stevedoring industry and that the cancellation of his registration is in the interests of the stevedoring industry; or
a person, being a registered waterside worker whose period of qualifying service is ten years or more, dies, he shall, if the period of his qualifying service is not a multiple of ten years, be deemed to have been entitled immediately before he ceased to be so registered or died, as the case may be, to long service leave for a period determined in accordance with sub-section (4.) of this section.”.
– The question is, “That the sub-section proposed to be omitted stand part of the clause “.
Question resolved in the negative.
– The question now is-, “ That the sub-section proposed to be inserted be so inserted”.
– by leave - As an amendment upon the proposed amendment, I move -
Omit proposed sub-section (2.), insert the following sub-section: - “ ‘ (2.) Subject to the next succeeding section, where a person -
ceases to be a registered waterside worker; or
being a registered waterside worker, dies, and his period of qualifying service is ten years or more and is not a multiple of ten years, he shall be deemed to have been entitled immediately before he ceased to be so registered or died, as the case may be, to long service leave for a period determined in accordance with sub-section (4.) of this section.”.
Briefly, this amendment will again afford us an opportunity to express rather strong opinions regarding pro rata leave. Again I say to the Minister and his drafting authorities that they have cleaned up some parts of the legislation that sadly needed cleaning up. I do not propose to go into that now, but I propose to have something to say on it later.
I do not know whether on this occasion the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) has advised the Minister, but I hope not. The original provision meant that a man virtually had to be medically unfit for his job before he had any pro rata leave entitlement. The Minister’s amendment will alter that. It has the same provision regarding permanent incapacity because of medical condition, but it also goes further than that. Remember, this is the only escape hatch that the waterside worker has with respect to his job if he wants to move out into another field of industry. I tell the honorable member for Bruce and the Minister who, I have been told, have been copying State legislation, that I do not know any other long service leave provision in Australia which nails a worker down to the extent that this provision still nails him down.
The second way in which a man can get pro rata long service leave is when his ceasing to be registered arises - from a request to cancel his registration made by him on account of pressing necessity of such a nature as to justify the making of that request.
Let me analyse that. I do not congratulate those who drafted that provision, because the words “ pressing necessity “ have not been defined. So we have an authority established under legislation enacted by this Parliament which has imposed on it the responsibility, when a man wants to leave the waterfront and is entitled to pro rata leave, of determining what “ pressing necessity “ means. In the first instance I say that that is not a fair proposition from the authority’s point of view, and secondly, I say it is a complete injustice to the man leaving the waterfront.
Sub-paragraph (iii) of proposed new subsection (2.) (a) is similar to the previous provision, as is sub-paragraph (iv). Then a new provision is proposed which, as I read it, covers the person who leaves a casual position as a waterside worker but remains on the waterfront as, perhaps, a foreman stevedore or something of that kind. He is able to carry his service with him into the new position.
But let me come back to this provision which refers to pressing necessity. Evidently the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) has advised the Minister on this provision.
– You are wrong.
– The Minister tells me that he did not. I did not think he would have. He would not have a bar of this if he stopped to consider it, because he has been having too much to do with other kinds of industry, in which a man who is entitled to pro rata leave gets payment for it when he leaves the particular industry. If honorable members opposite wish to contend that they have copied the provisions of State acts, let me ask them why they have not looked at the new provisions in the New South Wales legislation, under which the pro rata leave entitlement starts after five years’ service. At least New South Wales advances with the times. This is 1962, not 1862. It is completely unjust to tell a waterside worker, who is entitled to pro rata leave and wishes to leave the industry, that he must take up the position of an advocate before the industrial authority and convince that authority of pressing necessity before he can get payment for the pro rata leave. If a man wishes to leave the industry and set up a little corner shop, having been prudent and saved a few pounds, the authority should not have the power to decide whether there is pressing necessity present. Must a man convince the authority that his wife is so ill that he cannot leave her at night? Must he produce a medical certificate to show that he must leave the industry?
I contend that if we provide an entitlement to pro rata leave, it becomes an entitlement on the day on which the worker qualifies for it, and if he wishes to leave the industry his reason for doing so is his own business. We on this side of the chamber are castigated occasionally because it is said that we want nationalization, that we want to control various activities. This bill would control the very life of a waterside worker in at least one respect. I do not know of anything so dastardly as to say to a worker, “ If you want to leave your industry you must convince us of certain matters that we lay down before you can collect your pro rata leave payments”.
I know the Minister will tell me that he went as far as he could. What the Minister has done is not good enough for me or my party. It is not good enough for the Australian Council of Trade Unions or the Waterside Workers Federation. For that reason we have moved this simple amendment.
I tell the Minister that this is one provision about which we have strong feelings. We believe there is a principle involved. I do not care where a man works, whether he is a railway man, an employee of Anthony Hordern’s or a public servant of the State of New South Wales, I say that his pro rata leave would never be taken away from him on conditions such as those provided in this legislation. This provision is quite unreal, and for that reason we are pressing our point of view with all the emphasis at our command. Once a waterside worker is entitled to pro rata leave, he should receive payment for it on leaving the industry for any reason whatsoever. If we impose conditions we are restricting the employee’s freedom of movement, a freedom that every one of us cherishes. If I, as a member of this Parliament, have acquired some entitlement, and I wish to leave the Parliament, will some one tell me that because I leave of my own choice and not because I am defeated at the polls, I cannot take advantage of that entitlement? Any worker in any field of industry has the right to say how long he will remain in that industry. If he serves sixteen, seventeen or eighteen years in the industry he is entitled to his pro rata leave. I press this argument strongly, because I believe that the proposed provision is a restriction on the freedom of employees in the waterfront industry.
.- What the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) says seems to me to be somewhat persuasive. He suggests that when a man has established his entitlement to pro rata leave he should be able to take advantage of that entitlement. I agree, but where I disagree with the honorable member is on the matter of the number of years that must first be served before the entitlement is established. This legislation envisages twenty years’ service before the establishment of an entitlement. After all, that is the period that everybody has had in mind. It was the period that was referred to in the 1961 legislation. There was never any question in our debates in 1961 about twenty years being the correct period of time to set down. It was a matter of twenty years’ service - three months’ leave. We equated one with the other. Now the honorable member for Blaxland says that instead of the formula, twenty years - three months, we should provide, say, five years - a quarter of three months; or ten years - a half of three months; or fifteen years - three-quarters of three months.
– I did not say five years at all. I said that if you want to copy State legislation you should look at certain State acts.
– But the point is that this legislation has always referred to twenty years - three months. There was a weakness in the legislation in that a man might serve his twenty years, carry on in the industry for another three years, then leave and get nothing for the extra three years. This weakness has now been corrected. After a man has served twenty years and established his entitlement, if he leaves the industry after 23 years’ service he gets the extra pro rata leave payment for the extra three years’ service. From the point of view of the man with more than twenty years’ service, this provision is definitely an improvement, and I am sure that nobody would quarrel with the proposition that it should be accepted.
The honorable member for Blaxland referred to the man with, say, seventeen or eighteen years’ service. He said that after such a man has served ten years he should have an established entitlement to long service leave, and should then be able to leave the industry for any reason and get pro rata payment. If he has been in the industry for eighteen years, the honorable member suggests, he should be paid for eighteen-twentieths of three months. I do not suggest that this is not an arguable proposition. There is a lot of strength of argument that could be brought forward in favour of it. But let us not forget that this legislation is based on twenty years - three months. There is specific provision for a man with less than twenty years’ service to get his pro rata payment, and I think this is where the honorable member for Blaxland really makes his complaint. He says that the wording of the clause is too wide. He seems to have no quarrel with sub-paragraph (i) of proposed new subsection (2.) (a). You do not quarrel with that, do you?
– No. My complaint is that the only escape hatch for the person who wants to change his occupation is the provision covering pressing necessity.
– Yes. The honorable member for Blaxland says that “pressing necessity “ is too broad, it is not defined and one does not know what it means. The honorable member may have some hesitation in accepting what I am about to say, but I believe firmly that this is the position. My experience in this field with the Victorian legislation confirms it and the “Industrial Legislation Bulletin “, which reports the industrial appeals court cases in Victoria, confirms it, and I can show the honorable member a number of them. The use of the words “ pressing necessity “ undefined is the greatest advantage that the worker could possibly have. If anything is added to the words “ pressing necessity “, the courts will say that there is a limitation on what pressing necessity is, that it must be pressing necessity of this character or of that character. To leave the words purely as “ pressing necessity” and not add anything to them is in the undoubted interests of the waterside workers.
– Are you speaking in favour of my amendment?
– No, I am not, because your amendment is quite a different thing altogether.
– My amendment opens the hatch wide.
– What you are saying is that if a man leaves after ten years you do not make any inquiry at all.
– That is right.
– What I am saying is that on the basis of three months after twenty years - this is long service leave and we are thinking of three months after twenty years - after ten years a man can get a pro rata amount of leave if the reason for which he leaves the industry is one of those named - if he is ill, if he dies or if there is pressing necessity. The formula in the Victorian act is termination of employment for illness, domestic or other pressing necessity. In this legislation, the words used are merely “ pressing necessity “.
The courts in Victoria have held that a variety of different reasons fall within the category of domestic or other pressing necessity. For example, these men work on shift work, as they are called up on the roster. If a man’s wife says, “ I am frightened at home at night on my own when you are away “ and this is in fact shown to be true - it is not just an assertion with no basis - the courts in Melbourne have held that that is a pressing necessity. Another occasion is when a man has a son with asthma and a doctor says that he should not be in Melbourne, that he should be in Queensland or somewhere else. The courts have held that this is a domestic or other pressing necessity. The range of circumstances encompassed by two simple words “ pressing necessity “ is so great as to make every occasion one of pressing necessity, except where a person makes a conscious decision that he is finished with the industry and no longer wishes to be in it. If a man says, “I want to start a delicatessen shop and I am leaving the industry for this and no other purpose “, under the Victorian act he is no longer entitled to pro rata leave and under this legislation he would no longer be entitled to pro rata leave because this is not a pressing necessity.
– But if a wife can find some pliable doctor, he can get out of the industry with a subterfuge. That is not the kind of legislation we want.
– Victoria is the worst governed State of all. Why bring that up?
– I remind the honorable member for Wills that it was a Labour government that passed this legislation in 1953. He should not regard the Victorian legislation as something to throw stones at; he dare not.
The whole basis of the amendment of the honorable member for Blaxland is, in my opinion, without any merit. The clause should remain and there is very good reason why it should remain. I support the clause as it will be in the Government’s amendment and I oppose the amendment moved by the honorable member for Blaxland.
.- The honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) expressed the opinion that the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) was not associated with this amendment in any way. It is fairly obvious from the contribution of the honorable member for Bruce that he has possibly been a driving force in having “necessitous circumstances “ written into the act. Whilst we are in the unfortunate position of having to say that this is an improvement on a very bad clause, we must still oppose it. As 1 said when dealing with sick leave, compensation and the like, the Government is giving only the absolute minimum that it is possible to give. It refers once again to other acts and once again we find that the Minister and his officers have scraped the bottom of the barrel to find the worst possible system of long service leave.
The federal metal trades award is taken as the yardstick for wages. We find that the tradesmen receive an increase of about 19s. a week and then legislation is introduced to give certain public servants an increase of £900 a year. This is another instance of giving to those who have. But now the metal trades award, with all its shortcomings, is not accepted as the yardstick in deciding on long service leave. Under the metal trades award it is possible for an employee, after completing the qualifying period of ten years, to receive a pro rata amount of leave when he terminates his employment. If he leaves after fifteen years, he receives three-quarters of the amount that would have been due at twenty years. Although the Government has spoken of the metal trades award in glowing terms on a number of occasions, it has not followed it on this occasion.
When considering the State acts, the honorable member for Bruce once again takes the Victorian act and says that a man must complete twenty years’ service to become entitled to long service leave, except in certain necessitous circumstances, or in case of sickness or death. Why does he not refer to the New South Wales act? The New South Wales Government proposes to reduce the qualifying period to five years, but even with the present qualifying period of ten years, an employee is entitled to a proportion of the long service leave if he leaves the industry. Surely the Government can keep pace with what is being done in the States. New South Wales has been the leading State in introducing industrial reforms. Every progressive piece of industrial legislation has started with the New South Wales Labour Government. Therefore, I ask the Minister to examine the New South Wales legislation closely. In that State, if a man is dismissed for some trifling cause he can still obtain a proportionate amount of long service leave. Under the New South Wales act or even under the metal trades award, a man must commit a serious misdemeanour before he is deprived of long service leave.
– There is no long service leave provision in the metal trades award.
– But there is provision in New South Wales and other places where that award does not apply for an employee to receive some long service leave. I refer back to the New South Wales legislation, under which a man’s dismissal, except for a serious misdemeanour, may not deprive him of his long service leave. Very few employers with whom I have discussed this question will lay down the conditions of dismissal which they think should deprive a man of his long service leave.
Under this measure there is no provision for proportionate long service leave when a man is dismissed. I ask the Minister to give serious consideration to including such a provision in this legislation. I do not think a worker who is dismissed for some very serious misdemeanour should receive proportionate long service leave, but in many cases where mcn are sacked for some not very important reason or their registration is cancelled or suspended I think pro rata long service leave should be granted. I ask the Minister to consider this matter so that the circumstances can be examined by the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority and pro rata long service leave can be extended to the employee. I ask the Minister - as the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) did - to examine the question reasonably and practically and extend this concession to men who have to leave the industry.
There are already sufficient penalties prescribed in the act without writing into it an additional provision under which a man cannot leave the industry within twenty years without forfeiting a proportion of his long service leave. The Government says that if a man goes on strike he shall suffer penalties such as cancellation of attendance money and so on, but I ask for consideration to be given to the man who wants to leave the industry to better himself - or because he is ill - so that he will have opportunity to receive pro rata long service leave. On numerous occasions in this chamber the Minister has said that 80 or 90 per cent, of waterside workers are decent fellows - really good blokes - but what is he doing? In order to get at 10 per cent, of the industry he is not prepared to extend to the other 90 per cent, reasonable long service leave conditions.
– Mr. Chairman, I will briefly outline the Government’s position in relation to these provisions. The clause we are now considering is a re-arrangement of certain other clauses. Long service leave is, in principle, a reward to the waterside worker for long and continued service. Normally we require twenty years’ service as the qualification period, but we also provide for pro rata long service leave in certain circumstances after a person has served for ten years. The suggestion that the waterside worker can get pro rata long service leave after ten years’ service only in a case of pressing necessity has been bandied about. The truth is that pro rata long service leave can accrue when he has given ten years’ service, on death, on de-registration for physical or mental incapacity, for pressing necessity, for redundancy, or on request made on or after attaining 65 years of age. There is a wide range of conditions under which he can apply for pro rata long service leave.
The Opposition proposes that the waterside worker should get pro rata long service leave after ten years’ service, notwithstanding the conditions under which he leaves the industry, which could include dismissal for disciplinary reasons and whether or not there was pressing necessity, redundancy or application at 65 years of age. I have taken a deep personal interest in this provision. My own side of the chamber knows of this, but I think it is important that the Opposition should know there are three ways in which we have decided to extend the pro rata long service leave provisions of the act.
The first applies to ex-members of the fighting services, who are entitled to it under the Repatriation Act. They are given the right to receive pro rata long service leave at 60 years of age instead of 65. In other words, we extend to them, as ex-members of the fighting services, the provisions of the Repatriation Act. The second is that if a man has over twenty years’ qualifying service and his registration is cancelled at his own request he will be entitled to be paid the value of the qualifying service. The meaning of that provision is that if a man has attained twenty years’ qualifying service further pro rata entitlement is not limited to the special cases I have mentioned, involving pressing necessity, redundancy or mental or physical incapacity. So this is a very important amendment which I think members opposite will welcome, although obviously the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) does not realize that it is to be made.
Finally we will now permit a man who has ten years’ qualifying service to get pro rata long service leave in a new type of case. There may be redundancy, but probably much more important it is in the case where a man might wish to become a foreman or a first-aid man.
– You are prepared to let him become a foreman?
– If at the expiration of ten years’ service the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority certifies that it is in the interests of the industry that a man be granted pro rata long service leave - I have specified the cases where a man wants to become a foreman or a first-aid man - the leave will be granted. I want to be generous here, but I do not want to break down the provisions of the act relating to continuity of service so that long service leave would be just an addition to the man’s pay without the necessity for any qualifying service at all. I believe the provisions of the New South Wales legislation go too far and that if we agreed to the Opposition’s suggestion that a man should receive pro rata long service leave after ten years’ qualifying service, that would break down the true principles upon which the act is based. For that reason I support the amendments moved on behalf of the Government and reject those moved by the Opposition.
.- If a man, having completed ten years’ qualifying service, is off sick and can produce documentary proof that he has been sick and may be sick for some time to come, is the
Government prepared to extend to him pro rata long service leave? That is a condition in the New South Wales act, under which a man who is ill can draw his long service leave. I ask that that provision be included in this legislation. I do not want a man to have to leave the industry to get his pro rata long service leave.
– The Opposition cannot have it both ways. The answer to the honorable member’s question is that if a waterside worker with ten years’ qualifying service goes sick and makes application to the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority to be deregistered and get his pro rata long service leave he can get it, but he has to be deregistered before he gets it.
– Can he reregister?
– I think the answer there is the logical one. If he becomes fit again and is certified as being fit he can be re-registered, but in that case he would have to start all over again. He would then have exhausted his pro rata leave and would have to start again.
– Honorable members on this side of the chamber regard this matter as being very important. The Minister is a member of a government that regards itself as being a free enterprise government. We believe that free enterprise should be carried to the point where once a man becomes entitled to pro rata leave it is his own right to determine when he leaves the industry after ten years. For that reason we shall press this to the point of a division.
Question put -
That the sub-section proposed to be omitted (Mr. E. James Harrison’s amendment) stand.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment (by Mr. McMahon) proposed -
In paragraph (a) (ii) of sub-clause (2.), after “ sixty-one “, insert “ or by reason of the provisions of section twenty-three of this Act,”,
– This is a transitional provision to which we have no objection.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
(2.) Where a person to whom section forty-five E of the Principal Act as amended by this Act applies by virtue of sub-section (1.) of that section -
a person was a registered waterside worker immediately before the date of commencement of this Act and had attained the age of sixty-five years before that date; fi) he had not, before that date, become entitled to be paid an amount under sub-section (3.) or sub-section (4.) of section forty-five e of the Principal Act but would have become so entitled if -
– by leave - I move -
At the end of sub-clause (2.) insert “, and, in the application of that sub-section to him, the reference in paragraph (b) of that sub-section to one month shall be read as a reference to two months “.
Omit sub-clause (3.), insert the following subclause: - “ (3.) Where-
a person (including a person who ceased, by death or otherwise, to be a registered waterside worker before the date of commencement of this Act) did not, before that date, become entitled to be paid an amount under sub-section (3.) or sub-section (4.) of section forty-five e of the Principal Act but would have become so entitled if -
the amendments made by paragraphs (c), (e) and (o) of subsection (1.) of section thirteen of this Act had come into operation on the date of commencement of Part IIIa. of the Principal Act and paragraph (g) of sub-section (4.) of section forty-five c of the Principal Act had had effect on and from that date in the manner specified in section twenty-three of this Act; and
within the period specified in paragraph (c) of sub-section (3.), or the period specified in paragraph (b) of sub-section (4.) of section forty-five e of the Principal Act he had, in a case where he did not so do, ceased to be a registered waterside worker upon the cancellation of his registration at his own request or become a registered irregular waterside worker at his own request; and
in a case where he was a registered regular waterside worker immediately before the date of commencement of this Act - he ceases, within two months after that date to be a registered waterside worker upon the cancellation of his registration at his own request or he becomes, within that period, a registered irregular waterside worker at bis own request, there shall be paid to him (or, if he has died,to his legal personal representative) an amount equal to the amount which he would be entitled, or would have been entitled, to receive in respect of long service leave for a period of thirteen weeks.”.
These are transitional provisions only and I understand that there will be no debate on them.
– I agree with that and support the proposals.
Amendments agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 16 agreed to.
Proposed new clause 16a.
.- I move-
That the following new clause be inserted in the bill:- “ 16a. Section forty-five k of the Principal Act is amended by omitting sub-section (3.) and inserting in its stead the following sub-section: - (3.) In determining the amount of those average weekly earnings, the Authority shall have regard to any sums paid -
The proposed amendment provides that section 45k of the principal act shall be amended by omitting sub-section (3.) and inserting in its stead a new sub-section. I suggest to the committee that honorable members might first look at the principal act to be sure of what we are doing. Section 45k, which appears on page 22 of the principal act, deals firstly with the amount determined to be the average weekly earnings of registered waterside workers at continuous ports during the applicable period of twelve months. This is the basis provided for the determination in sub-clause (2.) of the average weekly earnings of registered waterside workers at continuous ports. It is upon this basis that the amount payable as a weekly amount to waterside workers on long serivce leave is calculated. I draw the attention of honorable members to the way this calculation is made. In determining the amount of the average weekly earnings the authority shall not have regard to any sums paid by way of attendance money, in respect of absences on account of illness or injury, or on any day that was a holiday for waterside workers under the award of the commission. Surely there can be only one way for the proper assessment of the average wage of the waterside worker. There is a golden rule with respect to the assessment of average earnings. It will be found in various acts. It is that the assessment of an average weekly wage shall be based on the total earnings for the previous twelve months. The present proposal takes the average earnings for a port and then excludes attendance money and holiday pay, all of which form part and parcel of the annual payments to a waterside worker. The Minister shakes his head.
– I am not shaking it for that reason.
– I thought you were suggesting that I was wrong.
– There can be only one way of assessing the total earnings to get the average. It must include all payments received during the year. If you did not do that, you could get a situation in which a waterside worker, finishing his twenty years of service, struck a slack year. In the twelve months prior to June, 1961, there was a period of slackness on the waterfront which reduced the average earnings of waterside workers by a substantial degree. Their earnings in this period were supplemented by attendance money. Any waterside worker who fell due for long service leave during the last three of those months and who received pay based on his average weekly earnings for the last year would not have received the amount to which he should have been entitled because, for a considerable part of the year, his earnings would have consisted mainly of attendance money.
The proposition contained in the amendment proposed by the Opposition is reasonable. We say that if the pay of a waterside worker for long service leave purposes is to be based on average earnings, then all payments received by the waterside worker must be taken into consideration in computing those average earnings. Wages, attendance money and amounts paid in respect of absence through illness or injury must all be taken into consideration. Sick pay is a minimum payment. To refuse to take it into consideration is to deprive the worker of an average payment to which he should be entitled.
Finally, reference is made to any day which was a holiday for waterside workers under an award of the commission. I worked on the railways for a number of years. In the year in which it was necessary to assess my average wage, all payments to me were taken into consideration. If I was booked off for a holiday for which I was paid, that was tacked on to my pay.
The same position should apply to waterside workers. A lot is spoken about arbitration in this place. Attendance money is an amount assessed by the Arbitration Commission as a minimum for keeping the waterside worker hanging on the hook for 365 days a year. Surely these are amounts that must be aggregated in determining the average wage to which a waterside worker is entitled when be goes on long service leave.
– Very reasonable.
– It is very reasonable. I put it to the Minister that this is possibly the most reasonable amendment that I have put to the committee tonight. I consider that this is a minimum entitlement. Surely it should be recognized in the National Parliament.
.- I think that the Minister and the Government could easily accept the amendment moved by the Opposition, because it is completely consistent with amendments that have been approved in connexion with the payment of compensation to waterside workers who have lost work over incorrect suspension or cancellation of registration. In the past, the Minister did not take attendance money and holiday pay into consideration in connexion with the payment of compensation, but the legislation, as amended now, provides that when assessing the amount of money lost these components shall be taken into consideration. This proposed amendment merely asks that in assessing the average weekly earnings of a waterside worker for long service leave purposes, all payments of a weekly nature be taken into consideration. Surely this is a most reasonable proposal.
There must be some formula for arriving at the amount to be paid to waterside workers while on long service leave. The amount should be based on their average earnings. The report of the Stevedoring Industry Authority has shown that the average number of hours worked by waterside workers has fallen over the years. It used to be nearly 40 hours a week, but the average for this year has been only 26 hours a week. Therefore, the money actually earned in three months will not form a satisfactory basis for assessing average weekly earnings. These are always very carefully taken into consideration by honorable members opposite when they say that waterside workers are doing well and receiving £25 a week. If we look at the tables supplied by the authority, we see that the average wage is about £19 a week. The actual earnings are about £11 or £12 a week. The total is built up by holiday pay, sick pay and attendance money. If a man is working 26 hours a week and receives two days’ attendance money, and if he is paid for Christmas Day and Boxing Day, those components bring up his weekly earnings. So in order to compute the average weekly earnings over twelve months you must take all the components of his earnings in that period.
The honorable member for Blaxland has moved a very clear, concise and logical amendment which is consistent with amendments which have been passed to-night in relation to compensation. We ask that in assessing the amount of money to be paid to the waterside worker for a three months period, attendance money be regarded as a part of the weekly earnings. If there are two public holidays in a week, the payments for them should also be considered as a part of the weekly earnings. I entirely support the proposed amendment. I hope that the Government and the Minister will give due and just consideration to it.
Proposed new clause 16a.
Amendment (by Mr. McMahon) proposed -
That the following new clause be inserted in the bill:- “ 16a.- (1.) After section forty-fivek of the Principal Act the following section is inserted: - 45ka. - (1.) Nothing in this Act shall be construed as preventing a person from becoming entitled to long service leave under a long service leave scheme for employees in respect of a period that is also a period of qualifying service in relation to the person under this Act if, during that period, the person was a permanent waterside worker. (2.) Where-
a person makes application to the Authority to take the whole or a part of any long service leave to which he is entitled under this Part; and
there is included in the qualifying service to which that long service leave relates a period (in this sub-sectionreferred to as “ the period of common service “) in respect of which he has, whether before or after the entitlement to that long service leave arose, become entitled to long service leave under a long service leave scheme for employees, whether or not he has taken the whole or any part of that leave, the period of the long service leave to which he is entitled referred to in paragraph (a) of this sub-section shall, in lieu of the period that, but for this sub-section, would be the period of that leave, be a period equal to that last-mentioned period reduced by -
a period equal to one-eightieth of the period of common service; or
the period of the long service leave to which he has become entitled under the long service leave scheme for employees or, if he became entitled to that long service leave in respect of a period of which the period of common service forms a part only, a period equal to such part of the period of that long service leave as the Authority certifies in writing to be, in its opinion, attributable to the period of common service, whichever is the less. (3.) Where-
a person makes application to the Authority to take the whole or a part of any long service leave to which he is entitled under this Part; and
there is included in the qualifying service to which that long service leave relates a period (in this sub-section referred to as “ the period of common service “ in respect of which he will or may, but has not, become entitled to long service leave under a long service leave scheme for employees, the period of the long service leave to which he is entitled referred to in paragraph (a) of this sub-section shall, in lieu of the period that, but for this sub-section, would be the period of that leave, be a period equal to that last-mentioned period reduced by a period equal to one-eightieth of the period of common service. (4.) Where sub-section (3.), (4.) or (5.) of section forty-five j of this Act applies in relation to long service leave to which a person is entitled under this Part, sub-sections (2.) and (3.) of this section apply in relation to that leave as if he had made application to take that leave immediately before he ceased to be a registered waterside worker, he died or he made application for payment of an amount in respect of that leave, as the case may be. (5.) Where-
a person becomes entitled to be paid an amount under section forty-five of this Act; and
there is included in the period during which he has been registered as a waterside worker a period (in this subsection referred to as “the period of common service”) in respect of which he has become entitled to long service leave under a long service leave scheme for employees, whether or not he has taken the whole or any part of that leave, that section shall apply to him as if any reference in the section to a period of thirteen weeks were a reference to a period of thirteen weeks reduced by
a period equal to one-eightieth of the period of common service; or
the period of long service leave to which he has become entitled under the long service leave scheme for employees or, if he became entitled to that long service leave in respect of a period of which the period of common service forms a part only, a period equal to such part of the period of that long service leave as the Authority certifies in writing to be, in its opinion, attributable to the period of common service, whichever is the less. ‘ (6.) Where-
a person becomes entitled to be paid an amount under section forty-five e of this Act; and
there is included in the period during which he has been registered as a waterside worker a period (in this sub-section referred to as “ the period of common service”) in respect of which he will or may, but has not, become entitled to long service leave under a long service leave scheme for employees, that section shall apply to him as if any reference in the section to a period of thirteen weeks were a reference to a period of thirteen weeks reduced by a period equal to one-eightieth of the period of common service. (7.) Where-
sub-section (3.) or sub-section (6.) of this section has applied in relation to a person; and
the Authority (whether before or after the person ceases to be a registered waterside worker) certifies in writing that it is satisfied that the person has not and will not become entitled to long service leave under a long service leave scheme for employees in respect of the period that, for the purposes of sub-section (3.) or sub-section (6.) of this section, was the period of common service, the person shall, notwithstanding sub-section (6.) of section forty-five e of this Act, be deemed to have been entitled, immediately before the issue of the certificate, or, if the certificate is issued after he ceases to be a registered waterside worker, immediately before he so ceased, to long service leave under this Part for a period equal to oneeightieth of the period of common service. (8.) Where-
sub-section (3.) or sub-section (6.) of this section has applied in relation to a person;
the person has (whether before or after he ceases to be a registered waterside worker) become entitled to long ser vice leave under a long service leave scheme for employees in respect of the period that, for the purposes of subsection (3.) or sub-section (6.) of this section, was the period of common service; and
the Authority certifies in writing that the period equal to such part of that lastmentioned long service leave as, in its opinion, is attributable to the period of common service is less than oneeightieth of the period of common service, the person shall, notwithstanding sub-section (6.) of section forty-five e of this Act, be deemed to have become entitled, immediately before the issue of the certificate, or, if the certificate is issued after he ceases to be a registered waterside worker, immediately before he so ceased, to long service leave under this Part for a period equal to the difference. (9.) Where-
a person has been employed at a port on weekly hiring as a waterside worker in stevedoring operations during any period after the establishment of a register of waterside workers at the port under Commonwealth stevedoring legislation and before the expiration of two months after the commencement of this section, being a period during which he was not registered as a waterside worker but was a member of a Union; and
the person is registered as a waterside worker on the date of commencement of this section, or the person is not so registered on that date but -
he has been so registered during a period before that date;
his registration was cancelled on his becoming employed on weekly hiring as a waterside worker in stevedoring operations;
he is, on the date of commencement of this section, employed on weekly hiring as a waterside worker in stevedoring operations; and
he informs the Authority by notice in writing given within two months after that date that he wishes to become a registered waterside worker, he shall, for the purposes of this Part, be deemed to have been registered as a waterside worker at the port referred to in paragraph (a) of this sub-section during the period of employment referred to in that paragraph. (10.) For the purposes of the last preceding sub-section, the definition of “ Union “ in subsection (1.) of section seven of this Act shall be read as if it included the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union of Australia. (11.) In this section - “ long service leave scheme for employees “ means a scheme providing for long service leave for employees, whether provided by or under a law of a Stateor a
Territory of the Commonwealth or by agreement or in any other way, but does not include the long service leave scheme provided for in this Part; “permanent waterside worker” means a registered waterside worker employed on weekly hiring as a waterside worker in stevedoring operations; “ weekly hiring “ includes a hiring for a period longer than one week. (12.) Where, under a long service leave scheme for employees, an amount has been paid or is payable to or in respect of a person in lieu of long service leave, the person shall, for the purposes of this section, be deemed to have become entitled to long service leave under that scheme for a period equal to the period of leave represented by the amount. (13.) For the purposes of this section -
an entitlement to long service leave under a long service leave scheme for employees in respect of a period shall be deemed to be an entitlement to long service leave under that scheme in respect of any period that forms part of that first-mentioned period; and
a person shall be deemed to have been employed on weekly hiring during any period if the Authority certifies in writing that, during that period, the person was continuously employed by one employer.’. “ (2.) For the purposes of section forty-five ka of the Principal Act as amended by this Act, an entitlement under sub-section (3.) of section fifteen of this Act shall be deemed to be an entitlement under section forty-five e of the Principal Act as so amended and that sub-section shall be deemed to form part of that last-mentioned section. “ (3.) Where a person to whom sub-section (9.) of section forty-five ka of the Principal Act as amended by this Act applies is not a registered waterside worker on the date of commencement of this Act, the cancellation of his registration referred to in sub-paragraph (ii) of paragraph (b) of that sub-section is, by force of this sub-section, revoked with effect from and including the date on which he gives the notice referred to in subparagraph (iv) of that paragraph.”.
– I hoped that in this instance, anyhow, the Minister would have given the committee some outline of what is intended. The general intention of the new provisions is to ensure something that has been talked about for a long while. It is to ensure that a permanent employee is not disadvantaged compared with a casual employee by taking up permanent employment. It is intended to permit a permanent employee to obtain long service leave under any other scheme such as State long service leave legislation which may be applicable to him as a permanent employee in respect of his permanent employment. It is intended, also, to provide that the period worked as a permanent does not count for leave under both the scheme provided by the Stevedoring Industry Act and any other scheme. However, the total leave for which a man can earn entitlement will not be less than he would have if casual and permanent service had been aggregated under the act.
The Opposition supports the Minister’s proposition. I would have thought that in drafting a new provison such as this great care would have been taken to make sure that all groups of permanents were covered. However, we find on examination of the situation that all have not been covered. Not a great number have been left out, but I cannot for the life of me understand why some are still excluded. In order to cover all the groups of excluded permanents, I propose to move an amendment to the Minister’s amendment. I ask for leave to do so now, Mr. Chairman.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– As an amendment to the proposed new clause I move -
Omit sub-sections (9.) and (10.) of proposed section forty-five ka, insert - “ (9.) Where-
a person has been employed at a port on weekly hiring in stevedoring operations during any period after the establishment of a register of waterside workers at the port under Commonwealth stevedoring legislation and before the expiration of two months after the commencement of this section, being a period during which he was not registered as a waterside worker; and
the person is registered as a waterside worker on the date of commencement of this section or the person is not so registered on that date but -
he is, on the date of commencement of this section, employed on weekly hiring as a waterside worker in stevedoring operations; and
he informs the Authority by notice in writing given within two months after that date that he wishes to become a registered waterside worker, he shall, for the purposes of this Part, be deemed to have been registered as a waterside worker at the port referred to in paragraph (a) of this subsection during the period of employment referred to in that paragraph.”.
The intention of the bill, as I have said, is to cover permanents associated with the waterfront industry, but the measure excludes both groups of permanents and individual permanents. I do not want to take credit from the Minister and his officers, who are trying to cover everything in this bill. However, my difficulty has been that the available time has been too short for a clear analysis of just what is intended in the measure. The Opposition supports the. Minister’s amendment generally, because we know that it contains beneficial provisions which will be of advantage to about 200 men. However, my amendment is designed to bring into the long service leave scheme men who have been permanently engaged in waterfront employment but who were not members of the waterside workers’ union. ! I cannot be precise about the date, because of the lapse of time, but about 1955 a group of men who were members of the Federated Storemen and Packers Union of Australia went over to the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia in Brisbane, with permanent status at that time. I emphasize that they had permanent status at the time. The men were at that time engaged as permanents by an employer undertaking stevedoring operations. So far as I can ascertain, the intention of this bill is that such men have full entitlement to long service leave, and there may be some reason why the Minister’s amendment is not sufficiently wide to include such workers in the scheme. Unless my amendment is agreed to, service of those men counting for entitlement to long service leave will go back only to the day in 1955 on which they joined the Waterside Workers Federation. Many of these men had been, as far back as 1942, permanent employees of an employer in the stevedoring industry, and they should be entitled to full credit for long service leave under the act throughout the period of service since 1942.
Another group of men affected were employed by the Port Adelaide Haulage Company Limited, which was formed by stevedoring companies. These men were engaged by stevedoring companies as perma- nents. I want the Minister to consider the position of men such as these with respect to the long service leave provisions of the act. My information is that some of the men who joined the Port Adelaide Haulage Company were actually registered waterside workers before they joined that company. They were permanents and my understanding of the Minister’s amendment - again, I am open to correction by the Minister - is that those who were registered waterside workers before they went over to permanent positions with the haulage company will now be entitled to long service leave. However, other men who were not registered waterside workers but worked side by side with men who will be covered will not be entitled to long service leave unless my amendment is agreed to. These are men who in the interim joined the Waterside Workers Federation. This sort of situation should not be allowed to occur.
I know that the Minister may consider that if the scheme is opened too wide permanents in all kinds of fields who are members of other unions may be involved. However, I put it to him that in this instance we are able to be specific and to include those whom we want to include. Members of the Federated Engine Drivers and Firemen’s Association of Australasia and of the Transport Workers Union of Australia who are permanently employed on the waterfront are almost entirely employed under awards which fully entitle them to long service leave, and they would not be affected if my amendment were carried. It is designed to include in the waterfront long service scheme only men in the position that I have outlined.
As an illustration, I mention the position of a particular member of the Waterside Workers Federation at Burnie, in Tasmania. He was a permanent employee of the Burnie Marine Board and transferred to the federation when he was employed driving a shorebased crane. I understand that his permanent service prior to joining the federation will not be counted in his entitlement to long service leave unless my amendment is agreed to.
I have already mentioned earlier that I received the long schedule of the Minister’s proposed amendments and had to study it at short notice. I have done the best I could in this difficult situation in the limited time available. It is very wrong in my view - I do not condemn anybody - for the committee to be considering matters of so much importance and of such great moment in their application to the lives and conditions of many workers without having an opportunity carefully to analyse the provisions of the bill and to determine just what is involved. I hope that the Minister will not take the attitude that he has not had sufficient notice of my amendment. He has gone a long way towards including in the long service scheme all who were permanent employees on the waterfront and it would be a pity to spoil the ship for a ha’p’orth of tar. The number of men affected by my amendment would not be so great as to present a great problem financially. If they were included in the long service scheme, we would bring about a completeness of coverage that is important in measures of this kind if we are to have peace and satisfaction throughout the industry among various groups of men working side by side.
So that the Minister will not feel that my amendment has been submitted to him at too short notice for him and his officers to understand clearly what it means, I inform him now that we do not propose to divide the committee on the amendment this evening. I suggest that, if he cannot see bis way clear to accept it now, he at least consider it and have it accepted when the bill is considered in another place.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Briefly, the purpose of the amendment is to give additional benefits to about 200 permanent men who drive mechanical equipment or are engaged on servicing and maintenance on the waterfront. The main purpose of the provision is that, as they are permanent men and may therefore become entitled to long service leave under other legislation - for instance State legislation - they will not be prejudiced by that other legislation. It will also ensure that they will not be able to enjoy the effects of both sets of legislation. It is intended to prevent the latter result of doubling up on long service leave rights from occurring. How ever, it is also intended to see justice done to the waterside worker by providing that where the Commonwealth scheme provides for benefits over and above those contained in a State scheme the waterside worker will not be prejudiced.
What the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) wishes to do is to change the whole substance of the law. In our legislation the prime requisite is registration as a waterside worker. The honorable gentleman proposes, in effect, that under certain conditions registration will not be a pre-requisite. We are unable to agree to a change in what is regarded as a basic principle of the act, and for that reason we reject the amendment.
– There is one section of the waterside workers that appears to have been completely overlooked in this legislation. I refer to waterside workers who were registered in 1942 but who were not on the regular list of waterside workers. They were men who were unfit for military service and were registered on the waterfront only to obtain employment when regular waterside workers were not available. I think that they were referred to as “snipers”. Between 1942 and 1948 a number of them were gradually absorbed into the Waterside Workers Federation. I understand that these men are not getting credit for the time that they worked in that period from 1942 to 1948 and, as it is now proposed to bring other sections of watersiders into the scheme and credit them with actual time worked on the waterfront I believe it is only just that these men should be credited, for the purposes of long service leave, with the time that they worked.
I feel that this omission has been an oversight that ought to be examined before the bill reaches the Senate, so that some proper amendment to the law can be made to cover those men.
– I have not heard of this until you brought it to my attention, and I will certainly look at it.
Amendment upon proposed amendment negatived.
– The question now is, “That the amendment proposed by the Minister for Labour and National Service be agreed to.”
– by leave - As an amendment upon the proposed amendment - I move -
Omit sub-clause (3.).
In the light of what I have said about the Government reconsidering this whole matter before the legislation reaches another place, where we will submit an amendment of a similar character, I do not think that there is any need for me to delay the committee at this stage.
Amendment upon proposed amendment negatived.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
After section forty-five m of the Principal Act the following section is inserted: -
*’ 45ma.- (1.) Where the Minister certifies in writing that he is satisfied that, by reason of the inadequacy or lack of records relating to stevedoring operations carried out at a port during any period, it is impossible to ascertain the qualifying service of a waterside worker who was, or of the waterside workers included in a class of waterside workers who were, registered at the port during the whole or any part of that period, then, in determining the qualifying service of that waterside worker or of those waterside workers, there shall be substituted such period as the Authority determines for the period or periods that, but for this section, would be included in his or their qualifying service by virtue of his or their registration at the port during that period or that part of that period.
Amendment (by Mr. McMahon) proposed -
In proposed new section 45ma (1.), omit “ the Minister certifies in writing that he”, insert “the Authority “.
– There is no need for me to say anything about this amendment. However, I wondered when I looked at the bill in the first instance how the Minister was going to find the time to attend to these matters. I agree with the amendment; and I agree that the stevedoring industry authority is the proper body to pay attention to this problem rather than the Minister, and accordingly we support the alteration.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 18. (1.) Section fifty-two a of the Principal Act is amended -
– I move -
Omit the clause and insert the following clause in place thereof: - “18.- (1.) Section fifty-two a of the Principal Act is repealed. “ (2.) A determination made by the Commission under paragraph (b) of sub-section (4.) of section fifty-two a of the Principal Act before the date of commencement of this Act shall not affect, and shall be deemed not to have affected, the qualifying service for long service leave of the waterside workers in respect of whom the determination was made.”.
My amendment provides for the deletion of the penal provisions that were included in the 1961 bill as section 52a. We had a very lengthy debate and, I hope, a valuable debate from the point of view of informing the Government, this afternoon on section 36, as amended by this Parliament in 1961. I indicated very clearly then what this party thinks about the inclusion of penal provisions in legislation for long service leave. I say to the Government again that waterside workers are entitled to long service leave - and the Government has admitted this. I suggest that my honorable friend from Warringah (Mr. Cockle) and the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) think carefully about what I said at the finish of the debate this afternoon on the question of the penal provisions in section 36. I suggest that they should think of the waterside workers’ union as an organization that is a component part of the great trade union movement instead of thinking of waterside workers as different from average Australians and thinking of their union as different from the average Australian trade union. If they think honestly about all that they will come to realize that the Waterside Workers Federation, like the Australian Council of Trades Union, is a component part of the trade union movement in this country which understands its responsibilities and knows where it is going in respect of the problem of proper control. Why on earth should the waterside workers be treated differently in respect of long service leave entitlment from the members of my union, the Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Enginemen. We are a transport union too, though in another field of transport, but we are not faced with the situation that if we have to have a meeting of our members at work these members will be faced with the loss of nearly £5, and above all with the loss of some of their long service entitlement.
There are very few State Government instrumentalities that do not set a very high standard in relation to long service leave, holidays and all the rest. They do not attempt to tie conditions to entitlement to long service leave. The honorable members for Warringah and Bruce have some knowledge of the industrial requirements in this matter, although their knowledge comes from the employers’ side. I do not think that the Minister has such knowledge. I doubt if any member of the Cabinet really understands the situation. So I suggest that those two honorable members, who know something about the matter, ponder the whole thing, as I do, in an attempt to find the answer to the problem on the waterfront. If they do so fairly they will not decide that inadequate provisions for long service leave are the right answer. If it is necessary to deal with an industry because of the proposition that you must have control by way of some form of penal provisions, then I say you should put the matter in the hands of the arbitration authority.
– You can’t.
– We hear this word “can’t”! That is the Government’s attitude. That is why I am speaking particularly to the two honorable members on the other side who I think understand the position, the honorable member for Bruce and the honorable member for Warringah. Any member of the Government who says that something can’t be done in this field does not understand the situation on the industrial level. Your very use of the word “ can’t “ proves to me that you are not thinking in terms of what can be done with a section 28 notice in the industrial field. With the trade union movement and the existing industrial authorities as they are, section 28 provides a safety valve. It is not a matter of somebody sitting in an ivory tower and saying: “ You were bad boys yesterday. I will hit you with four days. On the next four occasions on which you come along and cannot work I will take your attendance money from you.” If such a proposition were put to the trade union movement generally this country would be bankrupt of industry in less time than it would take to talk about it. There is no section of the trade union movement to which you could apply these conditions and get away with it. Yet you apply them in an industry that is already, as admitted by the Minister - and I say this advisedlyturbulent in character. For God’s sake, think of what you are doing to this industry that is so important to Australia. Think in terms of these workers as trade unionists. Think of their organization as a component of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. If you want to think of them as being, entitled to long service leave, give it to them, with no strings attached. Then come up with some really suitable industrial legislation, putting industrial matters in the proper industrial focus. Put them in the hands of the recognized industrial authorities, not of an authority set up purely for the purpose of running a particular industry.
I tell you now, as I did in my secondreading speceh. that if you go on with this legislation, the time is not far distant when the Stevedoring Industry Authority will be hated as strongly as the employers were hated in the darkest days of the waterfront industry. No employer would ever have dared to say to waterside workers: “You were bad boys last week. I will take something out of your pay envelopes this week, but you can keep on working while I do it.”
I say again, particularly for the benefit of the honorable members for Bruce and Warringah, for God’s sake remember that the Waterside Workers Federation is a union in control of a good many unionists. There are two important matters to consider in relation to those unionists, their livelihood and1 their industrial welfare. You must consider both those matters. In 1904 the conciliation and arbitration machinery was established to avoid the very situation that this kind of legislation can bring about. We do not suggest that there is not a problem to be dealt with on the waterfront.
But do not deal with it in this way. Provide the safety valve, the escape hatch. I have used that escape hatch many times, and I know how it can be used.
Less than six months ago we were on the fringe of what could have been one of the worst transport stoppages in this country since 1917. Both sides were exasperated. It had reached the stage at which people just did not want to talk to one another, as the position is likely to be on the waterfront. I said: “ Let us sit down quietly and talk about the matter for a while. Let us see what powers we have under the act”. That night I used, section 28 and produced a draft document. I told the whole story from both sides. We went before the commission the following day, and in four days the whole matter had resolved itself. That was because section 28 was available as an escape hatch or a safety valve for both sides. If the provisions of section 28 had been available when the dispute occurred on the waterfront in connexion with wool handling, the matter could have been settled within the first two days. It is because that provision is not available that you are destroying the very industry that this country should be developing, because it is so necessary for our future.
I am moving for the abolition of section 52a. I do so in the firm and conscientious belief that it would be a major step forward in Australian development.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) that section 52a be deleted. We have spoken to-night about the severity of fines on waterside workers. Surely the Government will not continue to insist that the withholding of attendance money is not a fine. It must accept that proposition as a fact. Then we must ask the Government whether it considers that a group of 26,000 men, in a period of nine months, should be fined £660,000.
– Not fined!
– No matter how we try to convince Government supporters, we find they still adhere to their view. If a man works two days in a week and gets three days’ attendance money, and then the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority takes away three days’ attendance money, surely that man has been fined. I am completely exasperated with the Minister.
– And we are exasperated also, listening to you.
– And I am exasperated trying to convince you of a very simple fact. Attendance money is part of a man’s weekly earnings on the waterfront. You cannot justify fining a union for taking action of an industrial nature which it considers will result in better working conditions on the waterfront, while at the same time its members are fined £660,000. It is obvious that if the employers had exercised their rights under the award, and under the arbitration legislation, they could have imposed severe penalties on the Waterside Workers Federation for unauthorized stoppages. The honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) rose in this chamber and proudly told us of twelve occasions on which waterside workers had conducted stoppages, when the employers, out of the goodness of their hearts, had not prosecuted. I would like to know why they did not prosecute. Is it not a fact that employers, in case after case, have failed to prosecute because they have been reluctant to go before the courts, knowing that far too many investigations have been made into waterfront conditions?
The honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) referred to the wool handling dispute on the Australian waterfront. The first day that dispute occurred the employers could have sought an order of restraint under section 109 of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, and for every day on which the strike continued the court could have and would have levied a fine of £500. Why is it that the employers do not want to go to arbitration? I would hate to think for one moment that freight rates on Australian cargoes are being maintained at a high level because of alleged disturbances on the Australian waterfront. While these disturbances continue high freight rates can be charged. That could be one very good reason why the employers have not gone to arbitration.
Will the Minister say why the employers have not gone to arbitration? After the first day of the wool dispute why did the employers not seek an order of restraint? Why, in the twelve cases mentioned by the honorable member for Bruce, did the employers not seek orders from the Arbitration Commission? Why did they not prosecute? In a period of four or five months fines amounting to £7,000 have been imposed on the federation. Did the Government tell the employers that it had caused the union to be fined £100,000 over the last 24-hour stoppage and that they should pull up their socks and launch prosecutions? But why have the employers not launched prosecutions in the past? Has the Government been forced to introduce this provision of the legislation because the employers have not gone to arbitration?
The award governing work on the waterfront stipulates that no bans, limitations or prohibitions shall be imposed. Existing legislation gives the employers adequate power to deal with 24-hour stoppages. If anybody is to be blamed for what has happened it is the employers, who have not gone to arbitration. Why should the men be charged? The Government claims that the waterside workers are led by Communists and that they must be shown the error of their ways, but why have the employers not gone to the Arbitration Commission over the years? Why has there been stoppage after stoppage and no fines? The answer is that the employers have not lived up to their obligations under the arbitration system and have forced the Government to legislate to take £660,000 out of the pockets of the waterside workers. In addition fines totalling more than £7,000 have been imposed. Will the Minister say why the employers have not gone to arbitration and sought to inflict penalties of £500 for each 24-hour stoppage? Why is it that only this year - a year in which there have been fewer stoppages than in any year since 1947 - has there been the gigantic fining of the federation to the extent of more than £7,000. Has the Government told the employers that it is time they pulled sp their socks and had a go? Do the overseas principals of the employers think that they can maintain high freight rates because of stoppages on the waterfront? Do the em ployers say, “Let them have a go. This is good argument for us.”
– Order! The honorable member is now getting rather wide of the clause before the committee.
– I ask the Minister to answer the queries that I have put to him.
Thursday, 8th November, 1962.
.Instead of fiddling around with amendments, as the Government has been doing all night, we propose that section 52a be deleted completely from the act. This section provides for attendance money to be withheld as a penalty. I condemn the Government for the way in which it has used its long service leave legislation. It has used the legislation as a bait to bring the Waterside Workers’ Federation to its knees. For that action I condemn the Government out of hand. Similar action has never before been taken in Australia. I never expected to see any government, even the present Government, stoop to such methods to bring about tame cat unions. This is something that the late Ben Chifley warned us the Menzies Government would do. Section 52a is a completely new feature in long service leave legislation. Fancy tacking penalties to long service leave! The Government has singled out one section of the community. The Minister for Labour and National Service is the spearhead of the movement. He comes into the chamber with an innocent air but he knows in his own heart that what I say is true. His aim is to smash the federation, financially if in no other way. Is it any wonder that we want to remove this section from the legislation. The Government is using a sledge hammer to crack a walnut. That is the purpose of the legislation.
I do not think any government will be able to force any group of workers to eat out of its hand by introducing legislation of this kind. Australians are a freedomloving people. This legislation is turning the waterfront into a slave camp. Long service leave, which is a right of men working in industry, is being chopped to pieces. It is being taken away from them in order to keep them in line. The Government says, “Do not get out of line or we will take two or three days from your leave “.
This is a hideous piece of legislation. No other country - not even Russia - has legislation like this on its statute book. Can any honorable member opposite prove otherwise? This is vindictive and vicious legislation because it provides for daybyday penalties. This legislation does not inflict just one penalty, as is inflicted on a man who robs somebody. This legislation inflicts a day-by-day penalty and is eroding the prestige and dignity of the waterside workers. This is a plan to break the union financially. For how long can the union withstand penalties of £2,000 at a time? The Government is trying to hoodwink the people into believing that it is being very generous towards the union, but in effect it is doing its utmost to turn the union into a tame cat union. It will be required to say “Yes, sir” or “No, sir”. That is the psychology being developed by this legislation. We will not have a bar of proposed new section 52. I ask the honorable member who is interjecting how long he has been on the waterfront. Have you ever been down to the waterfront to see a ship loaded or unloaded? ou smart- Alecks on the other side-
– Order! I think I can say that we have had a fair and reasonable debate from both sides of the chamber. A certain amount of latitude has been allowed by the Chair, which I believe has been appreciated and has helped us to get through this legislation. I suggest that for the remainder of the time occupied in passing the bill we endeavour to sustain the same attitude as has been adopted by honorable members on both sides up to this stage.
– Mr. Chairman, may I ask whom you are taking a crack at?
– There is an old adage, “ If the cap fits, wear it “. I remind the honorable member for Wilmot of that adage.
– I would rather you had named me and told me that you were referring to me instead of adopting this round-about way. We have heard a lot of fiddling stuff to-night. Now, because we are starting to get a bit tough on one of these clauses, we are asked to toe the line. Apparently we are supposed to be a tamecat parliament.
I will conclude, as the Government does not like my approach to its legislation. I support the comments of my colleagues, the honorable members for Petrie (Mr. O’Brien) and Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) about the withholding of appearance money. We believe that this is a punishment. Honorable members on the other side may believe what they like, but the majority of the people believe that this is a vicious punishment. The Government gives long service leave with one hand and smashes the men in the face with the other.
– Even at this late hour I want to try to convince the Minister that these penalties do constitute fines. If the Government really wants industrial peace on the waterfront, it will accept the amendment now proposed by the Opposition. Evidently, the Minister regards the payment of attendance money as payment for unproductive time and as something that is handed out as a gift to the waterside worker. He apparently believes that the men are not being penalized or fined when attendance money is taken from them. That seems to be rather strange reasoning, because there is a great deal of unproductive time on the waterfront for which the men are not responsible. There is unproductive time because of the lack of organization, because of inefficient equipment and methods. Would the Minister suggest that refusing payment for that unproductive time would1 not be imposing a fine on the waterside workers? To do so would be just as logical as to suggest that money paid to a waterside worker for attendance at the waterfront when no work is available for him is not part of his weekly wage. I agree with the honorable member for Petrie (Mr. O’Brien) that attendance money is part of the weekly wage, just as payment for other work performed is part of the weekly wage.
The Minister evidently believes that penalizing the men by taking away their attendance money will act as a deterrent and will prevent industrial disputes. If he examined the position closely, he would discover that many of the industrial disputes since April, 1960, have been caused by the savage penalties imposed on the men when they have been fined and in many instances have lost four days attendance money. Many of the waterside workers to-day do not regard the attendance money has having the value that the Government places on it. The latest report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority shows that in the last twelve months attendance money, speaking from memory, averaged £1 9s. 7d. a week. That is not a tremendous sura. The waterside workers believe that they are being asked to sacrifice too much in order to retain something to which they believe they are rightly entitled. If the Minister wants to create disturbances on the waterfront, he is going the right way about it.
One thing that enrages unionists, not only on the waterfront but elsewhere - there would not be a trade unionist in Australia who did not agree with the attitude adopted by the Waterside Workers Federation on this issue - is that every time the men are penalized and the branch then declares a stoppage in protest against the penalties, another penalty of £500 is imposed on the organization. I would venture the opinion that never before in the industrial history of this country has any trade union been penalized to the extent that the Waterside Workers Fderation has been penalized under this legislation. Fines amounting to £7,900 have been imposed by the Commonwealth Industrial Court, and individual members of the federation have lost just on £700,000 in attendance money. Never in the industrial history of this country have such savage penalties been imposed.
The Minister can protest as much as he likes, but 99 out of every 100 people to-day would recognize these penalties and the loss of attendance money as being a fine on the individual waterside worker. The Government may argue against the right of men to withhold their labour when they believe they are justified in doing so, but that is a right the trade union movement will never surrender. The Government may use all the pressure and all the coercion it likes, and it may impose all the fines it cares to impose, but I am satisfied that if it continues to do so the waterside workers and all other unionists throughout Australia will bring about the destruction of the Government and will return a Labour government to which they can look for just and fair treatment.
– Might I first answer the question put to me by the honorable member for Petrie (Mr. O’Brien)? He asked why it was that the employers or the shipowners had not lodged an application under section 28 of the act, and he implied that the Government may have needled the employers or the shipowners into taking action. The truth is that under section 28 an application can be made to the presidential member, but it was thought unwise to exercise that right unless there were exceptional circumstances.
In this particular case, the men have an award. The owners rightly took the view, I think, that the waterside workers should comply with the provisions of the award. If they wanted a change, they should go to a board of reference and if the board of reference gave a decision adverse to the Waterside Workers Federation, the shipowners would facilitate an appeal and would do everything possible to simplify the appeal before the presidential member. To show that it was not the shipowners who were at fault, the Australian Council of Trade Unions ordered the federation to go to the presidential member responsible for waterside matters. That is the answer to the question put to me by the honorable gentleman.
I must say to the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), much as I regret saying it, that he frankly misunderstands the provisions of the bill.
– What rubbish.
– I am sorry the honorable member does not understand the provisions of the bill and I have tried on several occasions to-day to show where he has misunderstood them. There are two different provisions in section 52a, which is being amended. One relates to long service leave and the other to the four days automatic suspension or loss of attendance money. The provision relating to long service leave provided that if a port stoppage occurred, was certified as a port stoppage and referred to the Arbitration Commission as a port stoppage, in that case the commissioner himself could extend the qualifying period for long service leave by up to thirty days. That is now being cut out and all tags on long service leave are being eliminated. The honorable gentleman went on to ask: Where do you find similar kinds of tags on long service leave in any other parts of the world? The truth is that you do not find such tags because no other country has similar long service leave provision for casual workers. This is a very generous provision. It is one which ought to be welcomed by honorable members on both sides, by the Waterside Workers Federation and by the Australian Council of Trade Unions.
The second part of the question relates to whether we remove penalties relating to attendance money under section 52a. I have said, and I repeat, that the tag on long service leave has been removed. I come now to the automatic forfeiture of four days attendance money in the case of a port stoppage. At this late hour of the night I do not want to repeat what I said in my second reading speech, but I do point out that it is possible to get peace on the waterfront. The men do not want industrial disturbances. They do not want to lose their pay or attendance money. The only people who are pulling them out on strike needlessly are the Communists in Sydney and Melbourne.
– You are providing the Communists with the lever which they use.
– Nonsense! We know that in time there will be peace in this industry. Do not let us have any humbug on the part of the Opposition. As the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) has said, section 36, which first introduced penalties, was introduced by a Labour Government on the recommendation of a Communist - Mr. Jim Healy, the general secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation. There can be no question of any principle being involved here. Labour adopted the principle of penalties and put it into the act. Can the Labour Party say that it is something contrary to the public conscience and contrary to all sense of decency when an additional penalty is imposed by a Liberal Party government? The Opposition wants to give the Communists a further right and a further opportunity to bring complete anarchy to this industry, and the Government is not prepared to accept the amendment.
– I would not have risen again at this late hour had I not been accused of being responsible for trying to do something that will create a state of anarchy on the waterfront. After having given a lifetime to the trade union movement, I throw the lie back into the teeth of any one who puts me into that category-
– Order! I ask the honorable member for Blaxland to withdraw the word he used.
– I withdraw it out of deference to you, Sir. What I said was that I throw it back into the teeth of any one who puts me into that category. If the cap fits, let them wear it. I say this as one who has given a lifetime to the trade union movement and who has tried to do something for this country in the trade union field.
The first thing the Government has to recognize is that it is dealing with men, not with animals. The second thing it has to recognize is that it cannot accuse the Labour Party of putting penalties into the original act. I thought I had settled that matter to-day once and for all, but the Minister comes back at this late hour of the evening with the same accusation. My proposed amendment to section 36 provides for a return to what the Minister cares to call the penalties in the 1954 legislation. The 1954 legislation did not provide for penalties; it provided the power to discipline. One of the things that is wrong with the Minister and with this Government is that they do not understand the difference between power to discipline and the imposition of penalties on the individual. Until such time as the Minister, whoever he is, who is in control of the trade union movement and the industrial field in this country learns to understand the difference between discipline and penalties as they affect the trade union movement and the workers, we will have industrial discontent in this country.
Question put -
That the amendment (Mr. E. James Harrison’s) be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. McMahon) agreed to-
In paragraph (c) of sub-clause (1.), after “days”, insert “(or such longer period as the Commission allows)”.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Remainder of bill- by leave- taken as a whole, and agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report - by leave - adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Motion (by Mr. McMahon) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– Mr. Speaker-
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 12.40 a.m. (Thursday).
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has supplied the following information: -
son asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following information: - 1. (a) No royalties will accrue to the Commonwealth Government.(b) Under the terms of section 40a of “The Petroleum Acts, 1923 to 1958 “ of the State of Queensland, any person who produces petroleum, shall, subject to certain conditions, pay a royalty “ computed at the rate of ten per centum on the selling value of all crude oil, casinghead petroleum spirit and natural gas that he produces”.
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
In the year ended 30th September, 1962:- 1. (a) County Courts- 71; (b) High Court of Australia - 2. 2. (a) Of the appeals to the County Courts - (i) 36 were upheld; (ii) One was struck out; the
Commonwealth to pay the costs; (iii) 29 were dismissed; (iv) Five were struck out. (b) Of the two appeals to the High Court, one was determined in favour of the Commonwealth and one in favour of the employee.
d asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following information: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 7 November 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1962/19621107_reps_24_hor37/>.